return to Pictorial Key

Clitocyboid

Expert links: Clitocybe Ampulloclitocybe Infundibulicybe Lepista
  Leucopaxillus Catathelasma Cleistocybe Other

They are mostly found on the ground, although they are often saprophytic and members of the Tricholomatoid clade unless otherwise specified. Not hygrophanous unless noted.

The very brightly orange gilled Hygrophoropsis is actually a gilled bolete.
Hohenbuehelia petaloides, a shoehorn shaped oyster, usually grows on the ground with an eccentric stem. Learn to recognize it.
Melanoleuca and Lyophyllum (and Tephrocybe) may occasionally have decurrent gills, but that is not typical so they are found under "collybioid".
The pink-spored Rhodocybe sometimes has pale pink spores, enough to confuse it with Lepista (covered here) or even Clitocybe. It doesn't help that the characteristic angular spores of the Entolomataceae are less pronounced in Rhodocybe as well.
Some small colourful mushrooms may be waxy cap relatives, especially if they're on wood. Pseudoomphalina and other omphalinoid mushrooms can also be large enough to be confused with Clitocybe.

 

Leucopaxillus - large mushrooms (up to 20cm or more) that resemble Clitocybe but are much tougher. They may be mistaken for the tough oddball gilled mushrooms that are related to the polypores, but their toughness is a good way to tell them apart from Clitocybe. Throw a clitocyboid mushroom at your friend's head and if it breaks apart, it was Clitocybe, but if it bounces off good as new it's Leucopaxillus. Microscopically, some can be distinguished by their amyloid warty spores (they darken in iodine). One member is not quite as tough as the rest, but it is recognized by its huge size. At 40cm or more, it is one of our largest mushrooms. It also has smooth spores, and recent DNA analysis shows it to be unrelated so it is being moved to a different genus, Aspropaxillus. These all smell somewhat distinctive, usually farinaceous to some degree. Leucopaxillus are some of the only mycorrhizal mushrooms on this page, which probably makes them some of Tricholoma's closest relatives.

L. albissimus - <20cm, mostly white, taste unpleasant or bitter. 

L. gentianeus (amarus) - <15cm, brown cap, definitely bitter. Caution: sometimes the gilled are adnexed

Aspropaxillus (Clitocybe) (Leucopaxillus) giganteus - pale tan to grey, up to 40cm! See C. maxima and I. geotropa.

A. septentionalis - strong unpleasant odor, notched and decurrent gills.

 

Catathelasma - Very large mushrooms (up to 40cm!) with decurrent gills separated from Clitocybe by their double partial veil. Farinaceous. They are also mycorrhizal. Amyloid spores (darkening in iodine). It is difficult to tell these two apart, and perhaps our local species is neither of the below but something new.

C. imperiale - the largest, most viscid cap and perhaps darker.

C. ventricosum - still very large, perhaps paler, dryer capped

 

Cleistocybe - the only other genus with a partial veil, not nearly as large.

Cleistocybe vernalis - Much like a Clitocybe with a veil, which is pretty much what it is. Tricholomatoid clade. Around 5cm. Fruits in the spring.

C. gomphidiodes (subvelosa) - maybe only a hint of a partial veil, red-brown cap, gills grey in age. Fall.

 

Clitocybe s.l. - there are a large number of Clitocybes that look similar. There are always specimens coming in during forays that can't be easily identified to species, so there is a chance that your Clitocybe won't be found here. The genus is not well understood in the PNW. Some have been found to be quite poisonous.

The smallest species have caps <5cm with stems <5mm thick. Stocky species may grow to have caps >10cm. Their stems will often be >1cm thick.

First, the whitish species, often covered in a white chalky pruina if you catch them in the right conditions, but usually neither hygrophanous nor striate. Some are easily confused with the pale Lepistas, which are never chalky. Two whitish rare species are found on wood and might be sought on a different page, or confused with the also rare Ossicaulis or Collybia bakerensis.

C. albirhiza - <10cm fading orange/white concentric zones. Rhizomorphs (thick mycelium) on stem base. Spring, bitter. (See C. vermicularis).

C. glacialis (Lyophyllum montanum) - <8cm, snowbank, starts chalky white, becomes dark and greasy!

C. dilatata - <15cm, stocky, wavy margin, clustered on roadsides, chalky white. Resembles Lyophyllum and Lepista densifolia.

C. angustifolia - medium size, similar off-white chalky, wavy-split cap rim, not clustered.

C. dealbata (rivulosa) - small (<5cm), white, chalky, in grass. These species are smaller than L. densifolia.

Leucocybe candicans/tenuissima - similar, in forests under hardwoods/conifers with a tinge of yellow/grey to the cap.

C. truncicola - found on hardwood!

C. phyllophila (cerussata) - medium (<10cm), chalky, possible spicy odor and slightly coloured spores. See also Lepista densifolia.

C. idahoensis - name given to those with a fleeting anise odor.

C. sclerotoidea - <5cm yet stocky chalky white parasite on a white mass of Helvella vespertina. May have notched gills.

Other whitish Clitocybes to keep an eye out for that are not usually chalky:

C. alexandri/leopardina - stocky, like L. irina but darkens/lightens in age to/from brownish. L. leopardina is viscid.

C. robusta - very large albino C. nebularis (below). Skunk odor.

C. harperi/griseifolia - other stocky off white species that differ microscopically (no clamps). L. griseifolia smells fragrant.

C. smithii - medium, odorless, but unusually with a conic to umbonate cap and yellowing adnate gills.

C. variabilis - small, but with thick flesh in the cap and large spores.

C. caperata - small, off white chalky capped species with large spores.

Next, watery brownish, hygrophanous species, usually striate when wet, with or without an odor.

C. deceptiva/fragrans - <5cm, pale greyish-tan watery hygrophanous look. Smells like black licorice! Pale pink/white spores.

C. murina/obsoleta - siimilar/paler with a different sweet smell.

C. pungens - green corn odor.

C. subditopoda - <5cm, grey-brown watery hygrophanous, farinaceous.

C. ditopa/vibecina - almost identical.

C. patelliformis - farinacous with darkening stem.

C. metachroa/pseudodicolor/madefacta/concava - odorless. C. concava is funnel shaped.

C. diatreta - <5cm, more pinkish-tan than greyish-tan, slightly chalky, less striate. Yellowish spores. Odorless.

C. pseudomarginella - similar, with white spores and a darker cap.

C. americana - <5cm, watery tan, on hardwood!

Other brownish, hygrophanous, somewhat striate species:

C. ramigena - small, brownish, with a chalky stem and cap and darkening gills.

C. inornata - medium, chalky cap, grey-brown cap and gills, cylindrical spores.

C. umbrinipes - medium, chalky cap, dark stem, cylindrical spores.

C. coniferophila - small, slightly yellow large spores.

C. subcanescens/catervata - small/medium, chalky and not striate, pale pink spores.

C. thujana - small, viscid cap, with yellow staining gills.

C. cereoceps - small, viscid cap with large spores.

C. glutiniceps/sublutea - small, viscid, yellowish caps under conifers/hardwoods.

Other interesting Clitocybes:

C. nebularis - <25cm, large, grey, stinks like a skunk!

C. robusta -white and stinky.

C. odora - <10cm, a greenish-blue mushroom! Smells and tastes like black licorice. Blue can fade. 

C. sinopica (Bonomyces sinopicus) - <5cm, reddish-orange-brown, farinaceous, like Rhodocybe nitellina. Compare to I. squamulosa and Hygrophoropsis).

C. subsocialis, similar, pale stem and distant gills, unpleasant odor.

Rhizocybe (Clitocybe) vermicularis - small (<5cm), mild odor, with rhizomorphs at base of stem. See also I. squamosa, L. subalpina and C. albirhiza.

C. martiorum/gilvaoides/gracilis - other orange-brownish species with darker gills. Pink/white/white spores. <5cm/<10cm/<5cm. Odors not strong.

Rhizocybe (Clitocybe) rhizoides - similarly odorless with many rhizomes but dark brown in colour. Found here once in spring at Mt. Rainier.

 

Lepista - the primary features of Lepista are microscopic, a slightly coloured spore print and subtly warty spores. Half of them are larger and stockier than the average Clitocybe and more on the adnate side than decurrent, but the other half very much resemble Clitocybe. This group includes the famous "Blewit", so-called because it looks like a blue hat, L. nuda. It is probably not correct to separate these species as a separate genus, but the Clitocybe section is already so big, I am going to do it anyway.

L. nuda - <15cm, stocky, purple when young, said to smell like Tang. Many Cortinarius look similar!

L. saeva - never purple in the cap, only the gills and stem. No odor.

L. tarda - <10cm, similar colours, but slender. Purple can fade! Hygrophanous. 

L. glaucocana - <15cm, stocky, a uniform pale pink/lilac. Unpleasantly farinaceous.

L. irina - <15cm, stocky, white w/o any purple. Faint floral scent. C. alexandri darkens in age.

L. praemagna - <30cm, large off-white, in dry grass or sagebrush, no scent. Compare Leucopaxillus and Infundibulicybe.

L. densifolia/subconnexa - <10cm. White, usually more clustered (like C. dilatata), but not chalky and less stocky than L. irina. Possibly fragrant.

L. caespitosa (C. fasciculata) - rancid odor.

L. inversa (Paralepista flaccida) - <10cm. orange, funnel shaped! May have a spicy odor. Hygrophanous. I. gibba is paler pinkish-orange.

L. subalpina - <10cm, dingy brown all over. Resembling C. vermicularis and I. squamulosa but caespitose, stockier and hygrophanous.

 

Ampulloclitocybe - two similar mushrooms in the Hygrophoroid clade have evolved to very much resemble Clitocybe. A. clavipes is especially easy to identify because of its grape bubble gum smell! A. avellaneoalba may be found on or near rotting wood. Somewhat resembles Pseudoclitocybe.

A. clavipes - <10cm, bulbous stem base, grape bubble gum smell! Pale brown.

A. (Clitocybe) subclavipes - no odor, less bulbous?

A. avellaneoalba - <10cm but sometimes much bigger. Not as bulbous, no odor. Darker. Slightly ribbed cap margin.

 

Infundibulicybe - these mushrooms likely belong in the Tricholomatoid clade but outside of Clitocybe. Not all of them have formally been moved yet, but they likely will be.

C. trulliformis - <5cm, grey, felty!

C. senilis - only slightly felty.

Atractosporocbye inornata - <8cm, grey, stem darkens in age, unrelated.

I. squamulosa - <8cm, shown here both orange and brown, spring, slightly scaly cap centre. L. subalpina & C. vermicularis are rare.

C. mitis - related, darker, red-brown cap, spring.

C. coacta - similar looking, hygrophanous.

I. gibba - <8cm, pinkish orange, very funnel shaped! Slender. Lepista inversa is more orange.

C. alnicola - similar, farinaceous taste and cartilaginous cap cuticle.

C. maxima - up to 20cm or more, stocky, usually orangish. Leucopaxillus giganteus is even bigger but greyer.

I. geotropa - very similar, slight umbo, paler with less colour. Leucopaxillus giganteus has no umbo.

 

Other miscellaneous genera:

Cantharellula umbonata - <5cm, grey or brown, sometimes the gills look somewhat like veins and may fork. Recognizable by the sharp umbo in the centre of the cap. Amyloid spores (darkening in iodine). Hygrophoroid clade.

Cantharocybe gruberi - pale to bright yellow, large (up to 20cm) and sometimes with an eccentric stem like Pleurotus, as shown here, but this grows on the ground. A member of the Hygrophoroid clade.

Hygrophoropsis sp. - actually a gilled bolete, differentiated by its much brighter orange gills than the orange Clitocybes. Different species have caps that are brown, orange and whitish.

Gamundia striatula - may also look mycenoid or omphalinoid. The spores are minutely spiny like Lepista. Hygrophanous greyish-brown cap that becomes umbilicate. Striate when moist. Gills usually adnate to decurrent. Difficult to ID. I don't know what it is related to, possibly Marasmius.

Myxomphalia maura - dark brown, hygrophanous and only growing on burnt ground, similar to Arrhenia, which are even more strongly umbilicate and decurrent and not found on burnt ground. Possibly Tricholomatoid clade. May also be mistaken for collybioid. Amyloid spores (darkening in iodine).

Pseudoomphalina  angelesiana (Neohygrophorus angelesianus) - somewhat waxy and with a viscid cap. Not hygrophanous. Mostly found in the spring near melting snow. Amyloid. Tricholomatoid clade.

P. kalchbrenneri/intermedia - larger (<5cm), ordinary brown, not waxy. Odorless/farinaceous. Amyloid.

 

The following miscellaneous genera grow on wood, but they are often buried so they can appear terrestrial, so they are duplicated here from the miscellaneous wood inhabiting page. Both have amyloid spores (darkening in iodine). 

Clitocybula atrialba - <10cm, distinguished from Clitocybe by its long thin stem and dark cap and stem. On hidden hardwood but appearing terrestrial. Resembles Pseudoclitocybe. Belongs to the Marasmioid clade. 

Pseudoclitocybe cyathiformis - <10cm. Like Ampulloclitocybe with its dark cap and stem, but never large and with darker gills. Also found on buried wood growing from the ground, but hygrophanous. In the Tricholomatoid clade.

 

There is no full-colour recent treatment of Clitocybe, but we sure need one! It is one of the more confusing and little understood genera. Bigelow's two volume North American Species of Clitocybe (not illustrated) is the standard work on the subject.

return to Pictorial Key