Cap 2-6 cm broad, convex, becoming plano-convex, the disc slightly depressed or with a low umbo; margin incurved, then decurved, occasionally wavy, sometimes upturned; surface viscid when moist, otherwise, smooth, dry, yellowish-orange to golden-yellow, darkest at the disc shading to a lighter margin, the latter finely striate in moist weather; flesh thin, yellowish, waxy, unchanging; odor and taste mild.
Gills adnexed, close to fairly well separated in age, broad, pale yellow to yellow, waxy, thick.
Stipe 3.5-7 cm tall, 7-12 mm thick, equal, sometimes narrowed at the base, straight, often oval in cross-section, hollow, fragile, tending to split; surface smooth to occasionally innately squamulose, lubricous, but not viscid, yellowish, pallid at the base; veil absent.
Spores 7.5-9 x 4-5 µm, elliptical, smooth, nonamyloid; spore print white.
Scattered to in small groups in moss, duff in mixed hardwood/coniferous woods; fruiting from mid to late winter.
Reportedly edible, but untried locally.
Hygrocybe flavescens is part of a contingent of waxy caps that brighten our woodlands, usually after the new year. It is characterized by a viscid (when moist), yellow-orange to golden yellow, broadly convex cap, yellowish notched gills, and a moist to lubricous, yellow or orange-tinged, stipe. Hygrocybe chlorophana is very similar but has a viscid stipe. Another yellow waxy cap, Hgrocybe acutoconicus, can be distinguished by its conic cap.