The North American Species of Pholiota

Subgenus Pholiota

In keeping with the features of the type of the genus, the group is defined as containing species with both pileus and stipe distinctly scaly. It serves as a connecting link from species with no gelatinous layers in the subhymenium or pileus cuticle to those with a gelatinous subhymenium and slimy pileus surface. Obviously closely related species in which one or both of these features are somewhat reduced are also placed here. Chrysocystidia or very similar sterile cells are found in the hymenium of many of the species.

TYPE SPECIES: Pholiota squarrosa.

Section Pholiota

Key to Stirpes

1. Spores 7-10(11) x 4.5-5.5 µ, very dark brown in KOH (Agaricus-like), and with a prominent apiculus
1. Spores not as above
2. Pileus and subhymenium both lacking any gelatinized layers; subhymenium more or less cellular
Stirps Schraderi
2. Not as above
3. Pileus cuticle lacking a gelatinous layer; subhymenium gelatinous
Stirps Squarrosa
3. Pileus with a gelatinous subcutis or pellicle
4. Pileus with a gelatinous subcutis often obscured until near maturity by dry fibrillose-scaly epicutis
4. Pileus with a gelatinous cutis which is obvious at an early stage
Stirps Adiposa

Stirps Fulvosquamosa

1. Only one species


Stirps Schraderi

The subhymenium is of cellular to filamentous structure but not gelatinous, the pileus is dry and lacks gelatinous layers. In these features the genus Inocybe comes to mind as a possibly related group, but the spores of P. schraderi and P. scabella have a minute pore. The group may seem artificial to some, but the species at least are united by basic characters. The basidiocarps of the three species do not closely resemble each other in aspect.


1. Spores 8-10 x 4.5-5.5 µ
1. Spores smaller (6-8 x 4-4.5 µ)
2. Pleurocystidia 38-78 x 10-14 µ
2. Pleurocystidia smaller and at least some of them chrysocystidia              

Stirps Squarrosa

1. Spores 6-8 µ long; some pleurocystidia hyaline in KOH and evenly refractive throughout
1. Spores smaller (5-6.5 µ long); pleurocystidia not as above          

Section Adiposae Konrad & Maublanc

Encyc. Myc. 15: 156. 1948

Stirps Squarrosoides

In aspect the species placed here more closely resemble P. squarrosa than any other because of the dense covering of dry squamules over the young pilei. However, a gelatinous subcutis is present which becomes noticeable chiefly in age. This stirps contains the best edible species in the genus.


1. Spores 6-8 x 4-4.5 µ, oblong to elliptic in face view (see P. angustipes also)
1. Spores smaller or more ovate in face view
2. Spores 6-7.5 x 4-4.8 (5) µ, ovate in face view (see P. simulans also)
2. Spores 4-6 x 2.5-4 µ
3. Pileus dark grayish brown to dark cinnamon; stipe with scales colored like those on pileus
3. Not as above
3a. Stipe not staining when handled
3a. Stipe staining russet when handled
4. Pileus with coarse tawny scales
4. Pileus with fine scales paler than in above choice
5. Inner veil yellow; pileus ground color ochraceous
5. Inner veil white; pileus ground color pallid
6. Spores 4-5 x 2.5-3 µ
6. Spores 5-6.5 (7) x 3.5-4 (4.5) µ (see P. simulans also)

Stirps Adiposa

The species with a gelatinous pellicle or subcutis and a gelatinous subhymenium are placed here but the gelatinous cutis is not obscured at first by a dense layer of squamules as in the previous stirps; however, the two intergrade.


1. Spores 5-6 (8) µ wide
1. Spores mostly 2.5-5 µ wide
2. Spores 6-8 µ wide
2. Spores 4.5-6 µ wide
3. Spores 4-6 x 2.5-3.5 µ
3. Spores (5) 6-8 (9) µ long
4. Pileus gills and stipe picric yellow; stipe with well-defined dry picric yellow recurved squamules
4. Pileus darker (ochre yellow); scales on stipe gelatinous
5. Taste bitter; some context hyphae with inclusions resembling those of chrysocystidia
5. Taste mild to fungoid or somewhat unpleasant; hyphae not as above
6. Stipe connate and pointed below; with a thin viscid layer over lower part of stipe
6. Stipe not as above
7. Lamellae with pale yellow margins and pallid faces when young; stipe at first with scattered gelatinous scales below the annulus or annular zone
7. Not as above
8. Base of stipe surrounded by olive-yellow to tawny pubescence; pileus scales broad at base (± 3 mm)
8. Not as above
9. Young lamellae distinctly yellow
9. Young lamellae pallid to white at first
10. Pileus whitish; scales yellow
10. Pileus rich yellow, scales fulvous
11. Some specimens in a cluster with a thick heavy subpersistent annulus; on wood of conifers
11. Annulus never formed (veil-line merely a thin fibrillose zone); mostly on wood of hardwoods
12. Pileus covered with broad tawny scales; young gills pallid; stipe increasingly scaly downward from veil line; on wood of conifers
12. Not as above
13. Pileus squamulose with minute dot-like scales; stipe white to avellaneous
13. Not as above
14. Fusoid chrysocystidia scattered to abundant in hymenium; some cheilocystidia capitate and head with thickened bright yellow walls revived in KOH
14. Cheilocystidia not as above; pleurocystidia clavate to filamentous
15. Hyphae of pileus context bright red in Melzer's
15. Hyphae not as above