The caps may be laterally attached (with no stem). If there is a stem, it is normally eccentric and the gills are decurrent along it. The term pleurotoid is used for mushrooms having this general shape. The spores are smooth and elongated (described as "cylindrical"). Where hyphae meet, they are joined by clamp connections. Pleurotus is not considered to be a bracket fungus, and most of the species are monomitic (with a soft consistency). However, remarkably, Pleurotus dryinus can sometimes be dimitic, meaning that it has additional skeletal hyphae, which give it a tougher consistency like bracket fungi.
Pleurotus fungi are found in both tropical and temperate climates throughout the world. Most species of Pleurotus are white-rot fungi on hardwood trees, although some also decay conifer wood. P. eryngii is unusual in its association with herbaceous plants, and P. tuber-regium produces underground sclerotia. In addition to being saprotrophic, all species of Pleurotus are also nematophagous, catching nematodes by paralyzing them with a toxin.