The cap is 5 to 12 cm across, convex, expanding to planoconvex or flat with an upturned, deeply lined margin and a low umbo. It is grey-brown to brown-black in colour, darker in the centre, and paler towards the margin. Its surface feels smooth, and is slightly sticky when moist. The cap surface is characterised by having loose, fleecy, charcoal-grey patches of volval remnants scattered across it. The patches are easily removed. The margin is strongly striated. The cap colour is often variable, and pale forms are known to exist. Gills are free, close, and white in colour. Stem is 7 to 18 cm long, up to 2 cm thick and 50 to 160 x 7 to 15mm, lightly stuffed and then hollow, tapering slightly toward the top; dingy white with flattened greyish fleecy hairs, often in a zig-zag pattern. It does not bear a ring and has fragile, cottony, brownish or charcoal-coloured oblique girdles of volval remnants around the stem base and lower stem. The volva is whitish to greyish volva, powdery and delicate.
Its habitat is often deciduous forests with hornbeam, oak, beech and birch, but it can also rarely occur with conifers.