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The Genus Hypholoma  

[ Basidiomycota > Agaricales > Strophariaceae . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

The genus Hypholoma has always been hard to define with precision, even before DNA studies, but most mycologists seem to agree that a dark brown to purple-brown spore print, the absence of prominent veil remnants (other than an occasional cortina or a few wisps of tissue on the cap margin), smooth spores, and the presence of chrysocystidia (sterile cells on the gills that contain refractive, yellowish contents) are among the key characters.

Two groups of species, very different in their ecology and appearance, make up Hypholoma. The first group contains a handful of well known, medium-sized species that grow in clusters on deadwood; Hypholoma fasciculare may be the most widely distributed and common of these species. The second group contains small (sometimes very small), hard-to-identify species that grow alone, scattered, or gregariously, primarily in moss or muck, especially in sphagnum bogs or cold conifer bogs. Members of the second group, especially, are constantly shifted around between Hypholoma, Psilocybe, Pholiota, and other genera (including the newly erected "Bogbodia").

Identification of Hypholoma species in the first group, the larger wood rotters, is a matter of careful observation of macroscopic features—although the lines between the species do seem to become blurred in many collections. Identification of the little guys in muck and moss, however, should be left to those who enjoy working with microscopes; spore and cystidium morphology are used to separate the species, which all look pretty much the same to the naked eye.

If you have an older field guide that places species of Hypholoma in the genus Naematoloma and you're wondering, "Why did Naematoloma get the works?" Well, that's nobody's business but the Turks.


Hypholoma capnoides

Hypholoma sublateritium

Hypholoma fasciculare

Key to 13 Hypholomatoid Mushrooms in North America  

1.Growing in woodchips; cap orange to orangish brown or reddish, stem orangish to yellow; stem with a "root" that is attached to an underground knot of tissue.

1.Not normally growing in woodchips; cap varying; stem color varying; stem not attached to an underground knot of tissue.

2.Growing scattered or gregariously (not usually in clusters) on the ground, or in mosses, or on peat or muck; cap under about 3 cm across (rarely slightly larger).

2.Growing in clusters or densely gregariously (rarely alone or scattered), on wood or near deadwood (but occasionally growing from dead roots and appearing terrestrial); cap variously sized.

3.Stem with a well-developed, tapering, underground, rooting portion.
Hypholoma radicosum

3.Stem without a well-developed rooting portion.

4.Most spores 11 µm long or longer.

4.Most spores shorter than 11 µm.

5.Spores 14–18 µm long; cystidia developing irregular bumps and projections; probably southeastern in distribution.
Psilocybe longispora

5.Spores variously sized; cystidia not developing projections; distribution varying.

6.Fresh cap yellow; young gills yellowish; spores shorter than 14 µm.

6.Fresh cap not yellow; gills not yellowish; spores variously sized.

7.Spores 13–18 µm long, with small germ pore.
Bogbodia udua

7.Spores 11–14 µm; long, with large germ pore.
Hypholoma ericaeum

8.Most spores 7–9 µ long.
Hypholoma polytrichi

8.Most spores 9–11 µ long.

9.Mature gills dark purplish brown.
Psilocybe squalidella

9.Mature gills dull brown to yellowish brown.

10.Fresh cap with olive shades; spores narrowly ellipsoid.
Psilocybe olivaceotincta

10.Fresh cap yellow; spores broadly ellipsoid.
Hypholoma elongatum

11.Fresh cap red to brick red; appearing on the deadwood of hardwoods.

11.Fresh cap not red (or only slightly so over the center); usually associated with the deadwood of conifers (but rarely with the deadwood of hardwoods).

12.Gills greenish yellow when young, becoming smoky greenish with age; taste bitter.

12.Gills whitish, grayish, or dull yellowish when young, not developing greenish hues; taste usually not distinctive.

13.Mature cap 2–5 cm across; widely distributed in North America.

13.Mature cap 1–3 cm across; known from the southeastern states and the Caribbean.

14.Usually growing in clusters; mature caps 3–7 cm across, yellowish brown to cinnamon overall, with a slightly darker area over the center.

14.Usually growing gregariously; mature caps 1–3 cm across, reddish brown with a thin, paler, marginal zone.
Hypholoma dispersum


Antonín, V., J. Polčák & M. Tomšovský (2009). Hypholoma tuberosum, a new representative of the Czech and Central-European mycobiota. Mycotaxon 108: 41–47.

Nagasawa, E., Y. Shimono & T. Hongo (2000). The occurrence of Hypholoma tuberosum (Agaricales, Strophariaceae) in Japan. Reports of the Tottori Mycological Institute 38: 6–13.

Noordeloos, M. E. (1999). Psilocybe. In Bas, C., Th. W. Kuyper, M. E. Noordeloos & E. C. Vellinga (1999). Flora Agaricina Neerlandica: Critical monographs on families of agarics and boleti occurring in the Netherlands. Volume 4. Rotterdam: A. A. Balkema, 28–79.

Redhead, S. A. & P. Kroeger (1987). A sclerotium-producing Hypholoma from British Columbia. Mycotaxon 29: 457–465.

Sato, H., R. Ohta & N. Murakami (2020). Molecular prospecting for cryptic species of the Hypholoma fasciculare complex: toward the effective and practical delimitation of cryptic macrofungal species. Scientific Reports 10: 13224.

Smith, A. H. (1951). North American species of Naematoloma. Mycologia 43: 466–521.

Stamets, P. E. (1978). Psilocybe mushrooms and their allies. Seattle: Homestead Book Company. 160 pp.

Vesterholt, J. & E. Rald (2018). Hypholoma (Fr.) P. Kumm. In Knudsen, H. & J. Vesterholt, eds. Funga Nordica: Agaricoid, boletoid, clavarioid, cyphelloid and gastroid genera. Copenhagen: Nordsvamp. 942–946.

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Kuo, M. (2020, October). The genus Hypholoma. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site:

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