Cap 2.0-7.0 cm broad, petaloid to fan-shaped, often shallowly lobed or wavy; margin incurved, decurved at maturity; surface hirsute at base of cap, elsewhere matted-tomentose; color tan to buff-brown, frequently tinged ochre; context pallid, firm when young, flaccid in age, up to 1.0 cm thick, darkening slightly when cut; odor faintly resinous to aromatic; taste not distinctive.
Gills close, relatively narrow, radiating from a basal attachment point, edges even, appearing wrinkled when viewed from above, especially in age; gills intervenose, occasionally forked, sometimes appearing poroid at maturity, easily separated from the cap context; color cream-buff, becoming apricot-buff to warm tan-brown, unchanging when bruised; lamellulae poorly defined.
Stipe absent; adjoining fruiting bodies typically fused at the base; laterally attached to the substrate.
Spores 4.0-5.5 x 3.0-3.5 µm, broadly ellipsoid, smooth, thin-walled, hilar appendage not distinct, variably dextrinoid in Melzer's reagent; spore print tan-brown to pale ochraceous-brown.
Solitary to clustered, often in overlapping shelves on conifer wood, occasionally in wood chips; fruiting from mid to late winter.
This inconspicuous wood rotter is characterized by a dull ochre-brown, often shallowly-lobed cap, wavy intervenose gills, and a conifer fruiting habit. Because of its nondescript appearance, it is sometimes confused with a number of other gilled, shelf fungi. In the San Francisco Bay Area these include Phyllotopsis nidulans, Lentinellus ursinus, Crepidotus mollis and Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca. Phyllotopsis nidulans can be distinguished by a hardwood habit, apricot-orange, pubescent cap, straight, not wavy gills, and skunk odor. Lentinellus ursinus has a dull-brown, similarly-shaped cap but has gills with serrulate edges and an unpleasant taste. Crepidotus mollis mimics the overlapping shelves of Paxillus panuoides, but grows largely on hardwoods; additionally, its cap lacks ochre tones, and the gills are not intervenose or wrinkled; The occasional fruitings of Tapinella panuoides on wood chips should be compared with Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca, a distant relative with a similar colored cap, often abundant on this substrate. Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca is distinguished by a more centrally attached stipe and distinctly forked, bright-orange gills.