Cap 2.5-6 cm broad, convex, becoming nearly plane, sometimes with a low umbo; surface moist, smooth, yellow to tawny to orange brown to cinnamon brown fading towards the margin, the latter inrolled when young, appendiculate with veil fragments in age; flesh white, thick; odor and taste mild.
Gills close, adnate, often seceding; pallid when young, then light grey, finally purple brown.
Stipe 5-7 cm tall, 0.4-1.0 cm thick, equal, pallid to yellowish above, pale brown to rusty-brown below; veil thin, fibrillose forming a faint, hairy, superior zone, which soon disappears.
Spores 6.0-7.5 x 3.5-5.0 µm, elliptical, smooth, with an apical pore. Spore print purple-brown.
Gregarious to clustered on conifer wood, from late fall to mid-winter.
Edible, but generally considered mediocre. Do not confuse with the yellow or greenish-gilled Hypholoma fasciculare.
Hypholoma capnoides is recognized by its clustered habit on wood, cinnamon-brown to orange-brown moist, appendiculate cap, and purple-brown spore print. Another member of the genus, H. fasciculare, which is toxic and more common in our area, also fruits in clusters on wood, but is distinguished by sulphur-green gills and a bitter taste. Other wood rotters that could be confused with Hypholoma capnoides include some Galerina and Pholiota species, but these have brown spores. Xeromphalina campanella has a similar cap color but has decurrent gills and white spores. Finally some Gymnopilus species also grow cespitose on wood but all have orange-brown spores.