Laccaria laccata var. pallidifolia
Cap 1.5-5.0 cm broad, convex, becoming broadly convex, the disc sometimes depressed; margin incurved, in age decurved to uplifted, often eroded; surface hygrophanous, sometimes translucent striate, smooth to slightly fibrillose/squamulose, dull orange-brown fading to buff at maturity; flesh thin, colored like the cap, unchanging; odor, mild to slightly fruity; taste not distinctive.
Gills adnate, notched, sometimes appearing subdecurrent when young, subdistant, relatively thick, moderately broad, dull pale pink to pale-vinaceous.
Stipe 3-6 cm long, 2-6 mm thick, sometimes sinuous or with a bend, hollow at maturity, cartilaginous, pliant, more or less equal but with considerable variation, e.g. enlarged at the apex or the base; surface fibrillose-striate when young, obscurely so in age, frequently pallid and silky-fibrillose at the apex, colored like the cap but darker, sparse white mycelium at the base; veil absent.
Spores 7-9 x 7-8.5 microns (exclusive of the spines), nearly round, spiny, nonamyloid; spore print white.
Scattered, gregarious to clustered in dirt and duff under or near trees; common with live oak, (Quercus agrifolia); fruiting both winter and spring.
Edible, but local experience is slim.
Several small reddish-brown to orange-brown Laccarias occur in the S.F. Bay Area, all difficult to distinguish macro-morphologically. We have used Mueller's 1991 monograph which relies heavily on microscopic features to identify these collections. Laccaria laccata var. pallidifolia is characterized by an orange-brown, sometimes striate cap, which fades to buff in age, and has round, spiny, nonamyloid spores. A close relative, Laccaria laccata var. laccata, has ellipsoid spores, but according to Mueller is uncommon in the U.S. and may not occur locally. We have documented a small reddish-brown, two-spored species, Laccaria fraterna, which occurs primarily under introduced trees, e.g. Eucalyptus and Acacia.