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..
The genus Pholiota has ferruginous or ferruginous brown spores. It lacks a volva, but has an annulus; the gills are attached to the stem. It then corresponds to Armillaria among white-spored agarics, and Stropharia among the purple-brown-spored ones. There is one genus in the ochre or yellow-spored plants with which it is liable to be confused on account of the veil, namely Cortinarius, but in the latter the veil is in the form of loose threads, and is called an arachnoid veil, that is, the veil is spider-web-like. Many of the species of Pholiota grow on trunks, stumps, and branches of trees, some grow on the ground.
Pholiota praecox Pers. Edible. - (Agaricus candicans Bull. T. 217, 1770: Pholiota candicans Schroeter, Krypt, Flora, Schlesien, p. 608, 1889. This plant occurs during late spring and in the summer, in pastures, lawns and grassy places, roadsides, open woods, etc. Sometimes it is very common, especially during or after prolonged or heavy rains. The plants are 6-10 cm. high, the cap from 5-8 cm. broad, and the stem 3-5 mm. in thickness. The plants are scattered or a few sometimes clustered.
The pileus is convex, then expanded, whitish to cream color or yellowish, then leather color, fleshy, the margin at first incurved, moist, not viscid. Sometimes the pileus is umbonate. The surface is sometimes uneven from numerous crowded shallow pits, giving it a frothy appearance. In age the margin often becomes upturned and fluted. The gills are adnate or slightly decurrent by a tooth, 3-4 mm. broad, a little broader at or near the middle, crowded, white, then ferruginous brown, edge sometimes whitish. There is often a prominent angle in the gills at their broadest diameter, not far from the stem, which gives to them, when the plants are young or middle age, a sinuate appearance. The spores are ferruginous brown, elliptical. Cystidia abruptly club-shaped, with a broad apiculus. The stem is stuffed, later fistulose, even, fragile, striate often above the annulus. The stem is whitish or sometimes flesh color. The veil is whitish, large, frail, and sometimes breaks away from the stem and clings in shreds to the margin of the cap.
Plate 46, Figure 145
Pholiota praecox. Cap whitish, to cream, or leather color, stem white, gills white then ferruginous brown (natural size). Copyright.
Plate 47, Figure 146
Pholiota adiposa. Cap very viscid, saffron-yellow or burnt umber or wood brown in center, scales wood-brown to nearly black, stem whitish then yellowish; gills brownish, edge yellow (natural size, sometimes larger). Copyright.
Figure 145 is from plants (No. 2362, C. U. herbarium) collected on the campus of Cornell University, June, 1898. The taste is often slightly bitter.
This is one of the very common species, a small one, occurring all during the autumn, on decaying trunks, etc., in the woods. The plants are usually clustered, though appearing also singly. They are from 4-10 cm. high, the cap 3-4 cm. broad, and the stem 3-5 in thickness.
The pileus is convex, then plane, tan or leather colored, darker when dry. It has a watery appear-ance (hygropha-nous), somewhat fleshy, smooth, striate on the margin. The gills are joined squarely to the stem, crowded, at maturity dark reddish brown from the spores.
The stem is cylindrical, equal, smooth, fistulose, of the same color as the pileus, becoming darker, and often with whitish fibrils at the base. The annulus is distant from the apex of the stem, and often disappears soon after the expansion of the pileus. Figure 147 is from plants (No. 2743, C. U. herbarium) collected near Ithaca.
Pholiota unicolor Vahl, is a smaller plant which grows in similar situations. The plants are usually clustered, 3-5 cm. high, and the caps 6-12 mm. in diameter, the annulus is thin but entire and persistent. The entire plant is bay brown, becoming ochraceous in color, and the margin of the cap in age is striate, first bell-shaped, then convex and somewhat umbonate. The gills are lightly adnexed.