Most have a long, thin fragile stipe and are delicate, growing in grasslands on dead moss, dead grass, sand dunes, decayed wood, and dung. Conocybe species generally prefer fertile soils in lawns and pastures and are found worldwide. Conocybe species are sometimes called dunce caps or cone heads due to their conical or bell-shaped caps. Former species of Conocybe that have a well-developed partial veil and/or lack lecythiform cheilocystidia have been transferred to the genus Pholiotina, which was formerly a subgenus of Conocybe. However, Pholiotina as it is currently defined is polyphyletic, although none of the three clades that make it up belong in Conocybe. Similar to Galerina, a Conocybe species can be distinguished microscopically by its cellular cap cuticle, which is filamentous (thread-like) in Galerina. It is easy to confuse Conocybe species for Galerina species unless the microscopic nature of the cap cuticle is examined. Conocybe species have cap cuticles resembling cobblestones. Conocybe species can also be mistaken for species of Bolbitius.
Four species of Conocybe that are known to contain the hallucinogenic compounds psilocin and psilocybin are C. kuehneriana, C. siligineoides, C. cyanopus, and C. smithii. Conocybe siligineoides was used for shamanic purposes by the Mazatecs of Oaxaca.
Conocybe comes from the Greek cono meaning cone and cybe meaning head.