The cap of the Veiled oyster mushroom is cream, beige, or grayish colored. It may turn a yellow tinge as it ages. The caps average 2-5 inches wide – they’re not massive but definitely distinctive. When the mushroom first appears, a thin white veil covers the gills. Then, as the mushroom grows, it expands and breaks free from the veil.
Veil remnants often remain along the edge and top of the cap, and there is a tell-tale white ring or skirt around the upper part of the stem. The cap is densely fuzzy in youth; then, the fuzziness may turn into grayish brown scales. The cap may be smooth and bare in very old specimens and may crack.
The cap is circular (not ‘oyster-shaped’) and convex when young with an enrolled margin. With maturity, the cap broadens and becomes widely funnel-shaped.
Veiled oyster mushroom stems are cream-colored or pale brown and vary in length – compared to other oyster mushrooms, which often have stubby stems, this one is long. The stem will stretch out to the light and is usually curved. The stem can be nonexistent, as well. On average, though, it is 1-3 inches long. Veiled oyster stems are densely fuzzy on the lower half, below the ring. Above the ring, the stem is smooth.
The gills of the Veiled oyster mushroom are decurrent, like with all oyster mushrooms. Decurrent means the gills run partway down the stem. They are white or cream colored and do not bruise or bleed when cut.
Veiled oysters don’t have a strong scent like the common oyster mushroom (P. ostreatus), which smells like anise. Instead, this oyster mushroom just has a pleasant mushroom or slightly fruity smell.
The flesh of the Veiled oyster is white and does not change color when cut.
The biggest issue with identifying Veiled oysters is that the ring and veil remnants may disappear with age. Then, it looks a lot like the lookalikes mentioned further down. If you do see the veil, though, you can be assured it is P. dryinus as it is the only North American oyster species with a veil and ring.
Even though the veil and ring may appear very faint, there is usually at least some sign it was there.