Saprophytic mushrooms usually growing on wood, burned wood or burned ground. They are usually medium to large, usually viscid capped, seldom hygrophanous and sometimes scaly (either the cap or stem or both). It's somewhat unusual for scaly capped mushrooms to be viscid, that usually implies they are dry capped. Yellow-brown and orange-brown are common colours. The spore print is usually a plain brown. They most always have a veil (but it may be somewhat filamentous like Cortinarius) so they'll typically have a ring but more often a ring zone. There is often a somewhat pleasantly fruity aroma to many of the species, but the pleasant odor does not usually extend to a pleasant taste. Formerly all called Pholiota, now that has been separated into a few extra genera based on genetics.
The smaller ones can be confused with the LBMs. Some dry capped mushrooms, such as Agrocybe and Inocybe from terrestrial genera may sometimes be found on wood and can be confused as well. Alternatively, some mushrooms found on this page may not obviously belong to this group. For instance, Flammula and Kuehneromyces are barely viscid, and often hygrophanous and both may not be scaly. They are only recognized by their size and wood habitat. Crassisporium has reddish spores and is in a different family than all the others.
Pholiota were famous for being the only brown spored group in the normally dark purple-brown spored family Strophariaceae. But now we realize that other brown spored groups, like Agrocybe are related too.
These range in size from <2.5cm (S), <5cm (M) to <10cm (L) or larger. They are (M) unless specified.
Most species are on wood and viscid unless otherwise stated.
First, a few moved to new genera.
Flammula alnicola (malicola/
Kuehneromyces are barely viscid and hygrophanous, unlike Pholiota, and one is not scaly at all, relying on its medium size and wood habitat for its placement on this page. K. mutabilis looks very much like the DEADLY Galerina!
Species on burnt ground or burnt wood.
P. highlandensis (carbonaria/
P. brunnescens (luteobadia) - larger (<7cm), often clustered, the only one whose stem stains brown. Also spring or fall.
Crassisporium funariophilum (Pachylepyrium carbonicola) -
Brightly coloured orange-yellow species (scales not prominently erect and not tightly clustered)
Tight clusters, either on the ground or with prominent erect scales (or both).
P. squarrosoides - (L), prominent erect scales, Clustered. Sweet odor.
P. squarrosa - greenish mature gills?, not viscid, garlic odor? Usually at the base of cottonwoods and other trees.
Pale, almost white cap colours.
P. lurida (flavopallida?) - whitish with a hint of yellow P. lubrica (below) group member, no scales.
P. scamba - (S) one of our smallest. Pale, scaly stem only. Can be confused with an LBM.
Yellowish-brown cap colours - no scales. Larger spores than anything in the P. lubrica group below.
Cap colour without any yellow tones - the large P. lubrica clade. These can be very hard to tell apart often differing by subtly different shades of brown in the literature.
Many more species exist that have never been photographed in colour nor studied genetically to determine which represent unique species nor how to reliably tell them apart.