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Field characters

Pileus: dry, conic to campanulate or convex, often brownish in color with a hoary (grayish) sheen.
Annulus: present or absent
Stipe: typically long, fragile, cartilaginous
Stature: Mycenoid, Collybioid or Anellarioid
Ecology: saprophytic on the ground, in grass, humus, manure or decayed wood

Micro characters

Basidiospores: smooth with an apical germ pore
Cystidia: cheilocystidia always present, pleurocystidia absent. Usually
abundant on the stipe with hairs.
Spore Print: "a deep, rich beautiful rust color" (Singer, 1986)
Lamellae: usually adnate or adnexed, usually colored from the spores
Lamellar Trama: much reduced
Pileipellis: with inflated hairs


Singer, 1986 states that "the genus Conocybe is not in need of conservation and may just as well be taken off the list of nomina conservanda." It is not clear to me why he says this. I'll work on it. Nominum conservandum means to "conserve the name" in the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature, the rulebook of naming plants (and a few other Kingdoms). Great bathroom reading. Conserving a name generally occurs when a name, although placed on taxon incorrectly (for a number of reasons) should still be used as the official name for that taxon. Galera was a Friesian genus no longer in use. He recognized three genera with rust brown spores, a cartilaginous stipe, attached but not decurrent gills, and a conic, campanulate or convex pileus (Galera, Bolbitius and Pluteolus). Species belonging to all these genera have since been distributed into Bolbitius, Conocybe and Galerina (Largent and Thiers, 1977)

According to Largent, 1986, Conocybe is an easy genus to recognize in the field and can be confused only with Galerina, from which it can be distinguished by the dry pileus with a hoary (grayish) sheen.

These are fragile mushrooms with thin stipes. Common names often refer to the appearance of the pileus, e.g. "dunce caps", or "cone heads". They often appear early in the morning and are on their last legs by noon.

Arora, 1986 notes that they are sometimes confused with Psilocybe, but Conocybe's spore print is much lighter and brighter.

There are about 50 species in North America.