Cap 4.0-11.0 cm broad, convex, becoming plano-convex at maturity; margin when young incurved, decurved to occasionally upturned in age; surface subviscid when moist, pallid, covered with vinaceous, appressed-fibrils, darkening in age or where bruised; context white, unchanging, firm, relatively thick, up to 1.0 cm; odor not distinct, taste mild.
Gills adnate to subdecurrent, close, narrow, waxy, white to cream, often spotted or blotched vinaceous with age.
Stipe 2.0-9.0 cm long, 1.5-2.5 cm thick, round, solid, fleshy, variably shaped: clavate to ventricose when young, equal to narrowed at the base at maturity; surface fibrillose to sparsely squamulose, whitish, streaked or spotted vinaceous; partial veil fibrillose-membranous, leaving an evanescent, fibrillose zone high on the stipe.
Spores 5.5-7.5 x 3.0-4.5 µm, elliptical, smooth, thin-walled, inamyloid; spore print white.
Solitary, gregarious, or in cespitose clusters; often only partially emergent; fruiting in duff under montane conifers; spring and fall; common.
Edible, of fair quality, not commonly eaten.
This snowbank mushroom is recognized by a vinaceous-streaked fruiting body, decurrent, waxy gills, fibrillose veil, and a tendency to fruit in clusters partially buried in the duff. The species name is somewhat misleading as immature specimens are pallid to pale pink, the characteristic strong vinaceous tones developing in age or with bruising. Other vinaceous Hygrophorus species include H. erubescens, a fall-fruiting species which occurs in both montane and coastal forests, distinguished by the lack of a veil; Hygrophorus russula, associated with hardwoods, close-gilled, and as the name suggests, Russula-like in stature, and H. capreolarius, associated with spruce along the north coast of California, lacking a veil, with a dark-vinaceous cap.