Clitocybe rivulosa

Beware the Fool’s Funnel

Experienced foragers often say, if you want to familiarise yourself with only a few mushrooms, it’s always best to recognise the deadly ones! Wise words indeed.

The Fool’s Funnel (Clitocybe rivulosa aka C.dealbata) is one of the more common poisonous species to be found in the UK, as well as in Europe and North America. It appears, alarmingly enough, in some very ‘people orientated’ places such as lawns, parks, road sides etc; in sandy soil, during late summer to late autumn.

The toxic culprit here is muscarine (found in many other poisonous fungi), and with a good dose it can cause some very unpleasant symptoms, and in some cases – death. So it goes without saying, don’t be too hasty in picking these innocent looking mushrooms. Here’s what to look out for:

Although not that large (around 4-6cm when mature), they often grow in small to medium groups and sometimes partial or full rings in grass. One of the largest partial rings I found were right in the middle of a local park.

The cap is powdered white often with concentric rings or blotch marks which show the darker buff coloured flesh beneath (or even cracking, depending on condition). This is a good identification marker to note. The shape is initially rounded but it soon flattens out, usually developing the common ‘funnel shape’ and the margin remains slightly inrolled.

I stipulated on my mushroom identification page that there are no ‘golden rules’ or ‘one tip fits all’ in identifying different species, but  if you want a good rule, then always be extremely wary of white gilled mushrooms. Several deadly species have white gills, but then again they can also have different coloured gills! So I guess what I’m trying to say is – ‘If you don’t know it, then don’t eat it‘ – simple. (I’m not sure if that was pointless and wasted paragraph! But there you go…)

In this case (typical for a funnel mushroom) the white/whitish-buff gills run decurrently down the stem (which share the same colour as the cap). They are quite crowded and turn more buff coloured as the fungi ages.

Last but not least; the flesh, if crushed between the fingers, will deliver a ‘sweetish’ smell, but I’d advise you wash or wipe your hands afterwards, and make sure you’re not tempted to a little nibble!

Fools Funnel

Clitocybe rivulosa where the white powder surface has faded to reveal the darker flesh beneath. In this case, it has a ‘cracked’ appearance.

Fools Funnel Mushroom

Notice the markings here on the cap surface of these slightly younger examples. Typical trait of the Fools Funnel.

QUICK ID TABLE: FOOLS FUNNEL Clitocybe rivulosa / C.dealbata


3-6cm diameter. Initially convex, then flattened out, often funnel shaped. Powdered white, often with concentric or buff flesh markings. Flesh is buff; smells sweet.


2-4 x 0.5-1cm; similar colouring as cap. Often slightly woolly at the base.


White/Whitish-buff, decurrent and crowded.
Spore Print: White (see how to take a spore print here).


In small-medium groups, full or partial rings in grass of gardens, parks, roadsides, path edges (sandy soil). Summer – autumn.


Deadly poisonous. Contains muscarine.

17 replies
  1. John Batten
    John Batten says:

    Hi John
    Yes its thanks to your excellent book, that I now feel confident (but not too confident), about what I bring home.
    Unfortunately my wife has also read your book, so will not eat the mushrooms I bring home for her. :-)
    Kind regards

  2. J C Harris
    J C Harris says:

    Very good question – but one I unfortunately don’t know the answer to. Fungi and fungi spores have moved from one place to another via human travel/intervention. I do know that Cauliflower Fungus (Sparassis crispa) settled in the UK after soldiers returning after World War I, brought spores back (from the mud on their boots) from the battlefields in France. If anyone out there does know, it would be interesting to hear…

    • Loretta Livingstone
      Loretta Livingstone says:

      I never got round to coming back here earlier, but I did manage to find out from the British Mycological Society over on Twitter that, although they couldn’t be certain, they thought it was very likely to be around in the UK in the 12th century, so I was safely able to use it in the novel I was writing.

      • J C Harris
        J C Harris says:

        Thanks for the update Loretta. That’s really interesting and if anybody would have a good idea, it would be the British Mycological Society.

        All the best, and good luck with the novel.

  3. Dalton
    Dalton says:

    Hi there, is there an easy way to tell if it’s fools funnel mushroom or a fairy ring mushroom?
    Like can you rub the mushroom on your wrist and get a reaction or something.

  4. felix moir
    felix moir says:

    Are there any very obvious differences between these and things such as Snowy Waxcaps? I bring them home a lot and don’t want to poison any of my family!

    • J C Harris
      J C Harris says:

      Good question. They are similar. But if you had them side by side, you do notice the difference.
      A good way is to get used to what Waxcaps characteristics are and hopefully find a few to confirm.
      They’re naturally waxy/super smooth and the gills are less numerous, relatively ‘thicker’ and widely spaced while the Fool’s Funnel has more fine, numerous, crowded gills.
      It is tricky I know. But once you get familiar with Waxcaps (most abundant in Oct/Nov), you’ll see what I mean.

    • J C Harris
      J C Harris says:

      Hi Trinity, not in my experience. I haven’t seen that as a characteristic feature, or at least a reliable one. But there may be tiny droplets that do hang on the gills after rain.

  5. Darren
    Darren says:

    So would I be correct to assume if it has an umbo, it is not the false funnel and is very likely to be trooping funnel?

  6. Loretta Livingstone
    Loretta Livingstone says:

    I never got round to coming back here earlier, but I did manage to find out from the British Mycological Society over on Twitter that, although they couldn’t be certain, they thought it was very likely to be around in the UK in the 12th century, so I was safely able to use it in the novel I was writing.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Identification – 4/5 – Large – fully grown caps can be easily 20cm in diameter; Strongly decurrent gills (running down the stem); Strongly funnel shaped when mature; Always a raised boss (bump) in the centre of the cap (you may have to feel for it); Inrolled margin (cap edge) on younger specimens; White spores; Pleasing sweet, floral fragrance, sometimes with a hint of bitter almonds; Trooping (gregarious) – you will very seldom find one on its own. Similar species: clouded agaric, tawny funnel which is smaller and brown/tan coloured (both similarly edible). When harvesting from field edges, you should also be aware of the deadly poisonous grassland toadstool fools funnel (clitocybe rivulosa/dealbata). It is only superficially similar, distinguished by its much smaller size, white powdery cap and habitat. There is a good description of it here. […]

  2. […] The cap of the mushroom is convex and can flatten in the middle. It has an edge that rolls inwards. Younger specimens are white, and they turn pale gray and brown as they mature. The ivory funnel has a white stem and no skirt, and it is often found in rings or troops in fields, pastures, lawns, and next to paths and roads. These mushrooms typically grow from summer through autumn in North America and Europe, according to The Mushroom Diary. […]

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