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Pholiota squarrosa

[ Basidiomycetes > Agaricales > Strophariaceae > Pholiota . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

This large, showy Pholiota is the "type species" for the genus, which means that mycologists have chosen it to represent the "typical" features of pholiotas--namely, a scaly cap and stem (the genus name means "scaly" in Greek), a brown spore print, attached gills, and a partial veil. Pholiota squarrosa may require microscopic analysis for certain identification (see below), but its dry cap, large size, greenish mature gills, and garlicky odor (not present in all collections) serve as fairly good field characters. The similar Pholiota squarrosoides has a frequently sticky cap, gills that go from whitish to rusty brown without a greenish stage, and never smells like garlic--but its smaller spores distinguish it quickly under the microscope.


Ecology: Saprobic and possibly parasitic; growing in clusters on the wood of hardwoods or conifers; often found at the bases of living or dead trees; especially common on aspens and spruces in the Rocky Mountains; summer and fall; fairly widely distributed in North America.

Cap: 3-12 cm; convex, becoming broadly convex or broadly bell-shaped; dry; yellowish underneath conspicuous buff to tawny scales.

Gills: Attached to the stem or beginning to run down it; close or crowded; whitish to yellowish when young, becoming greenish yellow and eventually rusty brown; at first covered by a partial veil.

Stem: 4-12 cm long; up to 1.5 cm thick; dry; with an ephemeral ring or ring zone; yellowish, sometimes becoming brown to reddish brown from the base up; covered with conspicuous buff to tawny scales.

Flesh: Whitish to yellowish.

Odor and Taste: Odor not distinctive or strongly of garlic; taste mild or somewhat unpleasant. The odor of my collections in Colorado is quite strong and quite distinctive--like a cross between garlic and lemon.

Chemical Reactions: KOH negative on cap surface.

Spore Print: Cinnamon brown.

Microscopic Features: Spores 6-8 x 4-5 µ; smooth; more or less elliptical; with an apical pore; reddish brown in KOH. Pleurocystidia clavate to clavate-mucronate or subfusiform; some with refractive contents in KOH; to 45 x 14 µ. Cheilocystidia subfusiform to fusoid-ventricose or clavate; to 43 x 15 µ. Pileipellis an interwoven layer of cylindric hyphae with clavate to fusoid-ventricose terminal elements. Clamp connections present.

REFERENCES: (Batsch) Kummer, 1871. (Fries, 1821; Saccardo, 1887; Overholts, 1927; Smith & Hesler, 1968; Farr, Miller & Farr, 1977; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1979; Scates & Gospodnetich, 1981/2003; Arora, 1986; Jacobsson, 1989; States, 1990; Lincoff, 1992; Evenson, 1997; Barron, 1999; McNeil, 2006; Miller & Miller, 2006.) Herb. Kuo 08150718.

Further Online Information:

Pholiota squarrosa in Smith & Hesler (1968)
Pholiota squarrosa at Roger's Mushrooms


Pholiota squarrosa

Pholiota squarrosa

Pholiota squarrosa

Pholiota squarrosa

Pholiota squarrosa

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Kuo, M. (2007, November). Pholiota squarrosa. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: