: Campanulate to conical, strongly hygrophanous, dull colored, often
"glittery" when faded (Singer
, 1986), flesh very thin (Largent and Baroni
, 1988); often splitting radially "with ridiculous ease" (Largent and Thiers
Annulus: present or absent
Stature: Mycenoid, Anellarioid
Ecology: saprophyte on the ground on various organic substrates. Often on much decomposed wood
Basidiospores: often truncate, often with a germ pore, smooth; color fades in sulfuric acid.
: usually with clamp connections, inamyloid (Singer
: present or absent (important in analysis of Singer
Spore Print: usually purplish brown to black, in some species lighter reddish- brown to pinkish gray
Lamellae: adnexed to adnate, wedge-shaped in x.s.
Lamellar Trama: regular (although, changes with age)
Pileipellis: hymeniform to cellular
Psathyrella is found exclusively on the ground, and you must pay attention to the substrate on which it was collected to use Bessette et al., 1997's keys to species. Arora, 1986 says that it grows (exclusively?) on much decomposed wood.
Singer, 1986 indicates that the spores are usually smooth, but recognizes the subgenus Lacrymaria with verrucose spore walls. Largent and Baroni, 1988 indicate that some workers place those species with ornamented spores in the genus Lacrymaria.
This genus can be confused with Panaeolus. Look at the gills with a hand lens to see if they are mottled. If they are, it's probably Panaeolus, but Bessette et al., 1997point out that the gills of Psathyrella can also appear mottled.
Arora, 1986 prefers the elimination approach (as in Clitocybe.) He states, its Psathyrella if:
-the gills do not deliquesce as in Coprinus
-their flesh never bruises easily as in Psilocybe
-their cap is not colorful as in Stropharia and Naematoloma (Hypholoma here) and is rarely viscid
-they don't grow on dung like Panaeolus
There are all kinds of nomenclatural debates with this genus. Singer, 1986 implies that Hypholoma is the correct name, and what most are calling Hypholoma should be called Naematoloma. This debate is beyond the scope of this work, so I will leave it at that. Those interested in this stuff should refer to Singer, 1986 and Smith, 1949.