Cap 2.0-9.0 cm broad, convex, expanding to plane, sometimes centrally depressed to infundibuliform in age; margin incurved, then decurved, at times wavy to upturned; surface hygrophanous, cinnamon-brown to butterscotch-brown overlain with a whitish sometimes zonate canescence; cap surface at maturity more or less glabrous to finely cracked, uniformly buff to dingy-tan; context thin, 1.0-2.0 mm, soft, pallid, unchanging; odor, indistinct; taste slightly bitter to astringent.
Gills notched to subdecurrent, close, cream-colored when young, becoming buff-brown, sometimes intervenose; lamellulae in three to four series.
Stipe 2.0-6.0 cm long, 0.5-1.2 cm thick, more or less equal, cartilaginous, hollow to stuffed; surface when young hoary, white, over a buff-brown ground color, eventually appressed fibrillose; conspicuous white rhizomorphs at the base; partial veil absent.
Spores 5.0-6.0 x 2.5-3.5 µm, elliptical, smooth, thin-walled, inamyloid; spore print white.
Scattered to clustered in duff of montane conifers; fruiting shortly after snow melt.
Clitocybe albirhiza is a drab snowbank species recognized by a pale-brown, canescent, often zonate cap and conspicuous white rhizomorphs at the base of the stipe. Its equally common relative, Clitocybe glacialis, is more robust but also has a canescent cap. The cap, however, is silvery-grey when young, not zonate, and the stipe has white mycelium rather than rhizomorphs at the base. Other spring fruiting montane Clitocybes include Clitocybe squamulosa, and Clitocybe inversa. Clitocybe squamulosa is recognized by a pinkish-tan to orange-brown, infundibuliform cap, squamulose at the disc and fibrillose at the margin, while Clitocybe inversa has a pinkish-tan, more or less glabrous, infundibuliform cap.