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Pholiota mutabilis

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

by Michael Kuo

Among the 200 or so species of Pholiota that have been described for North America, Pholiota mutabilis is fairly distinct. It has a smooth, "hygrophanous" cap--meaning it changes color markedly as it dries out, going from orangish brown to yellowish, often passing through a two-toned stage. The stem is scaly, and usually features a well developed ring. Like other pholiotas it grows on wood, has a brown spore print, and features gills that are attached to the stem. Identifying microscopic features include the small spores with a well developed pore, and small cheilocystidia.

Over the years, some mycologists have placed Pholiota mutabilis, along with Pholiota veris and a few other species, in the genus Kuehneromyces--and, according to the Index Fungorum Kuehneromyces mutabilis is the current "correct" name for this mushroom. However, since preliminary DNA results (Moncalvo and collaborators, 2002) indicate that the mushroom belongs with the non-psychoactive species of Psilocybe, neither genus name is likely to be accurate in the future.


Ecology: Saprobic; growing in clusters (rarely alone) on the wood of hardwoods or conifers; spring, summer, and fall (and over winter in warm climates); widely distributed in North America.

Cap: 2-16 cm; convex, becoming broadly convex or broadly bell-shaped; sticky or slimy when fresh; tawny to orangish brown, changing color markedly as it dries out and fading to yellowish (often passing through a two-toned stage); the margin finely lined when moist; smooth, or with scattered whitish fibrils when young.

Gills: Attached to the stem or beginning to run down it; close or crowded; whitish to pale tan when young, becoming cinnamon brown; at first covered by a whitish to pale tan partial veil.

Stem: 4-10 cm long; up to 1.5 cm thick; dry; silky near the apex; with a persistent (occasionally ephemeral) ring; whitish becoming brown from the base up; covered with small, whitish to brownish scales.

Flesh: Whitish.

Odor and Taste: Odor not distinctive or fragrant; taste mild or somewhat unpleasant.

Chemical Reactions: KOH negative on cap surface.

Spore Print: Cinnamon brown.

Microscopic Features: Spores 5.5-7.5 x 4-5 µ; smooth; more or less elliptical; with a well developed apical pore; brownish in KOH. Pleurocystidia absent. Cheilocystidia subcylindric, subfusiform, or subcapitate; scattered; inconspicuous; up to 30 x 7 µ. Pileipellis a gelatinized layer in young, fresh specimens. Clamp connections present.

Kuehneromyces mutabilis and Galerina mutabilis are synonyms.

REFERENCES: (Schaeffer, 1774) Kummer, 1871. (Fries, 1821; Saccardo, 1887; Overholts, 1927; Singer & Smith, 1946; Smith & Hesler, 1968; Smith, 1975; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1979; Scates & Gospodnetich, 1981/2003; Arora, 1986; Jacobsson, 1989; Phillips, 1991/2005; Lincoff, 1992; Barron, 1999; Roody, 2003; Miller & Miller, 2006.) Herb. Kuo 08150713.

Further Online Information:

Kuehneromyces mutabilis in Singer & Smith (1946)
Pholiota mutabilis in Smith & Hesler (1968)
Kuehneromyces mutabilis at Roger's Mushrooms


Pholiota mutabilis

Pholiota mutabilis

Pholiota mutabilis

Pholiota mutabilis

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Cite this page as:

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