Major Groups > Puffballs > Calvatia rubroflava


Calvatia rubroflava

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

by Ron Meyers

When you cut into a fresh puffball you expect to find a white, marshmallow-like interior. You also expect the mushroom to turn some shade of tan or brown as it ages. Calvatia rubroflava does not fit this pattern. When injured, the flesh will rapidly turn a bright yellow; it is the only puffball to exhibit this characteristic. The white fruiting body will gradually acquire an orange brown color as it ages. As the exterior decomposes to release spores it becomes a very sticky orange mass which stains anything it touches.

This mushroom was first described from Kansas and is frequently reported here. I first found it growing on a pile of grass clippings in a neighbor’s yard. Like other puffballs, it is considered edible when the spore mass is white. However, it is distinctly unpalatable and the odor of the mature mushroom is very disagreeable.


Ecology: Saprobic; frequently reported from forests, gardens, lawns, and in nutrient-poor habitats. It has been collected from New Jersey to Alabama, west to Ohio, Missouri and Kansas.

Fruiting Body: 2-10 cm broad, 1.5-5 cm tall, round to slightly flattened, distinctly furrowed in the lower portion. The flesh quickly stains bright yellow or orange to reddish orange when injured. Young fruiting bodies are white but gradually change color to yellow, then orange or reddish brown. The sterile base is pointed, and narrowly attached to the ground. The flesh is white, becoming greenish orange; it is persistent, not powdery.

Microscopic Features: Spores 3-5 µ; round; minutely roughened; with a short tail. Capillitial threads 2-7 µ wide; thick-walled; deeply pitted.

REFERENCES: (Cragin, 1885) Morgan, 1890. (Saccardo, 1888; Coker & Couch, 1928; Zeller & Smith, 1964; Ramsey, 1978 / 2003; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1981; Lincoff, 1992; Horn, Kay, and Abel, 1993; Bessette, Miller, Bessette & Miller, 1995.) Herb. Kuo 08250601.

While at first glance this mushroom, when young, might be mistaken for other common puffballs, it is smaller than the common Calvatias and slightly larger than the common Lycoperdons. As it matures the change in coloration makes it unmistakable.


Calvatia rubroflava

Calvatia rubroflava

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