Sharp-scaly Pholiota

(Pholiota squarrosoides)

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

Sharp-scaly Pholiota


NNR - Unranked


not listed


Fairly widespread and not uncommon.


September through October


Hardwood forests. Living and dead hardwoods.



    Photo by Margot Avey

This is a medium-sized gill mushroom. It is fairly widespread and not uncommon in deciduous woodlands in North America. It is found from September through October usually in a bouquet-like cluster, rarely singly. It can obtain its nutrients from living trees (parasitic) or dead wood (saprobic). It causes heartrot of living trees.

The cap is 1¼ to 4 in diameter. It is convex at first, becoming broadly convex, broadly bell-shaped, or almost flat with a knob in the middle. It is whitish near the margin, pale orangish-brown or yellowish-brown (tawny) or light brown near the center. It is covered with conspicuous, erect or backward-curved, pointed, sharp, tawny scales. The surface below the scales is slimy when wet, sticky when moist, and smooth when dry. The margin is curved under at first and often has shreds of tissue, remnants of the developing gill’s protective covering (partial veil).

The stalk is solid, dry, 1½ to 4 long, and 3 16 to thick. It is whitish, becoming reddish brown near the base. Near the top of the stem there is a collar or ring of often torn tissue, the persistent remnants of the partial veil. Sometimes the veil tissue deteriorates completely, leaving just a ring zone of slightly different color. Above the ring or ring zone it is smooth. Below it is covered with conspicuous, tawny, erect or backward-curved scales.

The gills are closely spaced (crowded) and are broadly attached. They sometimes run down the stem slightly. They are whitish at first, becoming dull rusty brown as the spores mature. They do not turn greenish before turning rusty brown.

The flesh is whitish. It never has a garlic odor. It is edible but not recommended because of the similarity in appearance to Shaggy Pholiota, which has been reported to cause severe gastric upset.

The spore print is dull rusty brown or cinnamon brown.


Shaggy Pholiota (Pholiota squarrosa) cap is pale tan, buff, or pale yellowish-brown, not whitish. The surface is always dry, never slimy or sticky. The gills are whitish to yellowish and pass through a greenish phase before turning reddish-brown. The flesh sometimes develops a garlicky odor. Note: The characteristics above overlap and are affected by weather conditions. Some authors believe the only way to distinguish between mature specimens of these two species is to examine the spores microscopically.

Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 4, 24, 26, 29, 30, 77.





Basidiomycota (club fungi)



Agaricomycotina (jelly fungi, yeasts, and mushrooms)



Agaricomycetes (mushroom-forming fungi)






Agaricales (gill mushrooms)





Agaricus squarrosoides

Hypodendrum squarrosoides


Scaly Pholiota

Sharp-scaly Pholiota









Obtaining nutrients from another living organism.


Partial veil

A protective covering over the gills or pores of a developing mushroom. At maturity it disappears, collapses into a ring around the stem, or wears away into a cobwebby covering and ring zone.



Obtaining nutrients from non-living organic matter, such as decaying plant or animal matter.



Orangish-brown or yellowish-brown: the color of a lion.

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Kelly Roth

found growing on maple log

  Sharp-scaly Pholiota   Sharp-scaly Pholiota
Margot Avey
  Sharp-scaly Pholiota    Photos






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Visitor Sightings
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Margot Avey

Location: Westwood Nature Center St Louis Park MN

Sharp-scaly Pholiota

Kelly Roth

Location: Renville, MN

found growing on maple log

Sharp-scaly Pholiota






Created: 9/28/2017

Last Updated:

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