Saprophytic mushrooms always found on wood (or burned ground), these typically medium-sized mushrooms have a plain brown spore print, often with a viscid cap that is seldom hygrophanous, and are usually scaly on at least the stem. The gills are always attached but variably so, and there is always a partial veil although it often vanishes. Fruitbodies are often yellow-brown.
The smaller ones can be confused with the LBMs. Some dry capped mushrooms, such as Agrocybe and Inocybe from terrestrial genera may sometimes be found on wood and can be confused as well. Alternatively, some mushrooms found on this page may not obviously belong to this group. For instance, Flammula and Kuehneromyces are barely viscid, the latter is hygrophanous and both may not be scaly. They are only recognized by their size and wood habitat. Pachylepyrium has reddish spores!
Pholiota were famous for being the only brown spored group in the normally dark purple-brown spored family Strophariaceae. But now we realize that other brown spored groups, like Agrocybe are related too.
These range in size from <2.5cm (S), <5cm (M) to <10cm (L) or larger. They are (M) unless specified.
Species on wood - viscid unless otherwise stated.
Hemipholiota populnea (P. destruens) - BIG!, ages from white to brown. Hardwood. Not actually in the Strophariaceae family with the rest of the Pholiotas.
P. scamba - (S). Pale, scaly stem only. Can be confused with an LBM.
P. squarrosoides - (L), erect scales, Clustered. Sweet?
P. squarrosa - greenish mature gills?, not viscid, garlic odor? Usually at the base of trees.
P. alnicola grp (malicola/
P. velaglutinosa - in the lubrica grp, evenly red-brown cap, slime veil and smoother stem. Southern species.
Kuehneromyces are hygrophanous and barely viscid, unlike Pholiota, and one is not scaly at all, relying on its medium size and wood habitat for its placement on this page. K. mutabilis looks very much like the DEADLY Galerina! They are related to Deconica.
Species on burnt ground
P. carbonaria - on burnt ground or wood only, reddish scales on stem and young cap. Viscid. Spring or fall.
P. brunnescens - larger (<7cm), yellow stem scales. Fall.
Pachylepyrium (Crassisporium) carbonicola -