Cap 2-8 cm broad, convex, nearly plane at maturity, umbonate; fibrillose with small brown scales over a pale buff to yellow-buff viscid layer; margin often with veil fragments, disappearing in age; flesh thin, pallid to pale brown; odor, mild.
Gills adnate, close, thin, pallid at first, dull brown at maturity.
Stipe 3.5-9 cm tall, 0.5-1.0 cm thick, equal, occasionally tapering downward; surface dry, brown at base, pallid to pale buff above with conspicuous brown scales; veil pallid forming a superior, evanescent fibrillose ring.
Spores 4.0-6.5 x 3.5-4.5 µm, elliptical, smooth with an apical pore. Spore print brown.
Clustered, usually on disturbed ground, e.g. lawns, paths, dirt roads; from late fall to mid-winter.
Edible, but of poor quality.
Pholiota terrestris is recognized by its scaly cap and stipe, clustered fruitings, brown spores and terrestrial habit. It also has a distinctive "leggy" aspect, the stipe being longer than the cap width. In age the cap scales sometimes wash away but the stipe scales usually persist. Some Psathyrella species are similar, but lack the distinctive cap/stipe scale pattern; additionally they have purple-brown spores.