Major Groups > Puffballs > Calvatia cyathiformis


Calvatia cyathiformis

[ Basidiomycetes > Agaricales > Lycoperdaceae > Calvatia . . . ]

by Ron Meyers

To make a meal from most mushrooms, you probably hope to find at least a half dozen to a dozen, depending on the size. The large Calvatia species are special, because one or two at the most will probably be sufficient for a dinner for two.

While this puffball does not have a strong flavor of its own, it is still quite good, and its ability to absorb flavors makes it a rewarding find. The best fruiting I have noted was on the edge of an athletic field where I had gone to watch a grandson play soccer. Surprisingly no one had elected to use any of the mushrooms for a soccer ball yet.


Ecology: Saprobic; fruiting on lawns, pastures, golf courses and prairies from summer to fall; scattered to gregarious, often forming fairy rings; widely distributed.

Fruiting Body: 5-20 cm high and/or broad; round or flattened when young; becoming pear-shaped or round with a flattened top and narrowed base; white, tan or pinkish gray to light brown; smooth, the skin cracking and flaking with age; sterile base prominent, chambered, white to dingy yellow or darker, persisting as a deep purplish to purple-brown cuplike structure after the spores have dispersed; flesh white and firm when young, becoming yellowish, then brownish and finally dull purple and powdery.

Microscopic Features: Spores 3.5-7.5 µ; round, spiny or warty to nearly smooth. Capillitial threads 3-7.5 µ wide; thick-walled; minutely pitted.

REFERENCES: (Bosc, 1811) Morgan, 1890. (Coker & Couch, 1928; Smith, 1951; Zeller & Smith, 1964; Ramsey, 1978 / 2003; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1981; Weber & Smith, 1985; Arora, 1986; States, 1990; Phillips, 1991/2005; Lincoff, 1992; Metzler & Metzler, 1992; Horn, Kay & Abel, 1993; Evenson, 1997; Barron, 1999; Roody, 2003; McNeil, 2006; Miller & Miller, 2006.) Herb. Kuo 09100401, 09030503, 07120802.

Calvatia cyathiformis is distinguished from similar sized puffballs by the purple brown spore mass. Calvatia craniiformis has a yellow-brown spore mass; Calvatia bovista has an olive brown spore mass. All are edible when white and firm. Calvatia cyathiformis is also less consistent in shape; the ones I have found looked more like round loaves of bread than a pear-shaped mushroom. This inconsistency is evident in the illustrations.

Calvatia cyathiformis seems to be found exclusively in grassy areas, while the other two Calvatias are found in either woods or grass.

Further Online Information:

Calvatia cyathiformis at Roger's Mushrooms
Calvatia cyathiformis in Smith, 1951


Calvatia cyathiformis

Calvatia cyathiformis

Calvatia cyathiformis

Calvatia cyathiformis

Calvatia cyathiformis

Calvatia cyathiformis

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Meyers, R. (2003, November). Calvatia cyathiformis. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: