This section is from the book "Studies of American Fungi: Mushrooms, Edible, Poisonous, Etc.", by George Francis Atkinson. Also available from Amazon: Studies of American Fungi: Mushrooms, Edible, Poisonous, Etc..
This is a beautiful plant with tints of violet, lavender, lilac and purple, especially on the scales of the pileus, on the veil and on the stem. It occurs in clusters during late summer and autumn, on logs, branches, etc., in the woods. The plants occur singly, but more often in clusters of three to eight or more. The plants are 4-7 cm. high, the cap 3-5 cm. broad, and the stem 4-6 mm. in thickness.
Flammula polychroa, under view. Cap vinaceous buff to orange buff, scales lilac, purple or lavender; gills drab to hair brown (natural size). Copyright.
The pileus is convex, and in the young stage the margin strongly incurved, later the cap becomes expanded and has a very broad umbo. It is very viscid. The surface is covered with delicate hairs which form scales, more prominent during mid-age of the plant, and on the margin of the cap. These scales are very delicate and vary in color from vinaceous-buff, lilac, wine-purple, or lavender. The ground color of the pileus is vinaceous-buff or orange-buff, and toward the margin often with shades of beryl-green, especially where it has been touched. In the young plants the color of the delicate hairy surface is deeper, often phlox-purple, the color becoming thinner as the cap expands.
The gills are notched (sinuate) at the stem, or adnate, sometimes slightly decurrent, crowded. Before exposure by the rupture of the veil they are cream-buff in color, then taking on darker shades, drab to hair brown or sepia with a purple tinge. The stem is yellowish, nearly or quite the color of the cap, often with a purplish tinge at the base. It is covered with numerous small punctate scales of the same color, or sulphur yellow above where they are more crowded and larger. The scales do not extend on the stem above the point where the veil is attached. The stem is slightly striate above the attachment of the veil. It is somewhat tough and cartilaginous, solid, or in age stuffed, or nearly hollow. The veil is floccose and quite thick when the plant is young. It is scaly on the under side, clinging to the margin of the pileus in triangular remnants, appearing like a crown. The color of the veil and of its remnants is the same as the color of the scales of the cap.
The spores in mass are light brown, and when fresh with a slight purple tinge. (The color of the spores on white paper is near walnut brown or hair brown of Ridgeway's colors.) Under the microscope they are yellowish, oval or short oblong, often inequilateral, 6-8 x 4-5 µ.
Figure 151 is from plants (No. 4016, C. U. herbarium) collected at Blowing Rock, N. C, September, 1899, on a fallen maple log. The plants sometimes occur singly. It has been collected at Ithaca, N. Y., and was first described from plants collected at Waynesville, Ohio.
Flammula sapinea Fr., is a common plant growing on dead coniferous wood. It is dull yellow, the pileus 1-4 cm. in diameter, and with numerous small scales.