Cap 1.0-7.0 cm broad, plano-depressed to funnel-form or umbilicate; margin straight to wavy, frequently deflexed at maturity; surface dull, matted-tomentose (use hand-lens), sometimes faintly wrinkled, with usually well-defined bands of cinnamon-brown, beige, yellowish-brown and greyish-tan, the actively growing margin lighter; specimens in exposed locations greyish with age; context pliant when fresh, rigid and hard when dry, medium-brown to rust-brown, 1.0-3.0 mm thick, blackish with 3% KOH; odor and taste untried.
Pore layer subdecurrent to decurrent, buff-brown to pale cinnamon-brown; pores 3-4/mm, elongate, eventually angular; tubes up to 3 mm long, colored like the pore surface.
Stipe 0.5-5.0 cm long, 3-7 mm thick, central, round to compressed, solid, equal except swollen at the base; surface tomentose to velutinate, dingy orange-brown; context leathery when fresh, rigid when dry, colored like the stipe surface.
Spores 6.0-8.5 x 4.0-4.5 µm, elliptical to oblong-elliptical, smooth, thin-walled, inequilateral in profile, i.e. slightly flattened on one side, hilar appendage inconspicuous, single guttule present, weakly dextrinoid in Melzer's reagent; spore deposit not seen.
Solitary, gregarious, or clusters, usually associated with conifers, often growing in disturbed areas, e.g. roadsides, trails, moss-banks etc., rarely on rotting wood; also found early in the successional sequence after burns; occurring throughout the mushroom season in lowland forests, fall and spring in the Sierra Nevada; common but inconspicuous, easily overlooked.
The funnel-form caps of Coltricia perennis typically have well-defined bands of colors, these ranging from cinnamon-brown, yellow-brown to grey. Important identifying features are a tomentose cap surface and a usually decurrent tube layer. The closely related Coltricia cinnamomea has a faintly-zoned, reddish-brown fruiting body. The cap suface of Coltricia cinnamomea is covered with appressed fibrils rather than a tomentum. These fibrils sometimes give the species a shiny or glistening appearance. Look-alikes of Coltricia perennis include stipitate species of Polyporus, e.g. P. elegans, P. varius, etc. These can be told apart by their lignicolous habit and non rusty-brown context. Also similar are species of Hydnellum and Phellodon which have leathery, zonate caps, but are toothed, not pored. Finally, Ionotus tomentosus is another terrestrial, stipitate polypore, but it can be distinguished by a relatively thick, indistinctly-zoned cap and microscopically by the presence of setae.