Major Groups > Puffballs > Morganella pyriformis


Morganella pyriformis

[ Basidiomycetes > Agaricales > Lycoperdaceae > Morganella . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

Morganella pyriformis is one of only a few puffballs that grow on wood, which makes it fairly easy to identify. Other distinguishing features include the fact that it is only finely spiny, with spines that usually wear off; and the long white mycelial strings attached to its stem, which is often pinched off at the base.

Desicated, putrefied, shredded, tattered, and otherwise foul specimens of Morganella pyriformis are often encountered by morel hunters in the spring (see the illustrations for an example), since the little mushrooms have amazingly tough skins that can survive for months, or even over winter.


Ecology: Saprobic on the dead wood of hardwoods or conifers; growing in dense clusters, or scattered; typically in fall and winter, but often fruiting in spring and summer; very widely distributed and common in North America.

Fruiting Body: Shaped like an inverted pear, or more or less round; 1.5-5 cm wide; 2.5-5 cm high; dry; often covered with tiny white spines when young and fresh, but the spines usually disappearing by maturity; typically with a pinched-off stem base; by maturity developing a central perforation through which spores are liberated by rain drops and wind currents; whitish to yellowish brown; with a white, fleshy interior at first; later with yellowish to olive granular flesh and eventually filled with brownish spore dust.

Microscopic Features: Spores 3.5-4.5 µ; round; smooth; without a pedicel. Capillitial threads olive to brownish in KOH; 3-6 µ wide.

Lycoperdon pyriforme is a (very recent) synomym.

REFERENCES: (Schaeffer, 1774) Krüger & Kreisel, 2003. (Persoon, 1801; Saccardo, 1888; Coker & Couch, 1928; Smith, 1951; Ramsey, 1978 / 2003; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1981; Arora, 1986; Phillips, 1991/2005; Lincoff, 1992; Metzler & Metzler, 1992; Horn, Kay & Abel, 1993; Evenson, 1997; Barron, 1999; McNeil, 2006; Miller & Miller, 2006.) Herb. Kuo 10310703.

Taxonomy in Transition: ...  > Lycoperdaceae > Lycoperdon Morganella

Preliminary DNA research conducted by Krüger et al. (2001) suggested the genus Lycoperdon, which held Morganella pyriformis, was "polyphyletic" (Mycologese for "They don't all fit in there!"), and that Lycoperdon pyriforme was one of the black sheep. The authors pointed out that, even without DNA testing, the species was distinct from other members of Lycoperdon in several features, including its habitat on wood, its mycelial strings, and other nonLycoperdonish things. In a subsequent publication (2003), the mushroom was officially moved to Morganella. Obviously, at the time of this writing (2005), it will be treated as "Lycoperdon pyriforme" in field guides.

See: Krüger et al. (2001). The Lycoperdales. A molecular approach to the systematics of some gasteroid mushrooms. Mycologia 93: 947-957; Krüger, D. & Kreisel, H. (2003). Proposing Morganella subgen. Apioperdon subgen. nov. for the puffball Lycoperdon pyriforme. Mycotaxon 86: 169 - 177.

Further Online Information:

Lycoperdon pyriforme at Tom Volk's Fungi
Morganella pyriformis at MykoWeb
Lycoperdon pyriforme at Roger's Mushrooms
Lycoperdon pyriforme in Smith, 1951


Morganella pyriformis

Morganella pyriformis

Morganella pyriformis

Lycoperdon pyriforme

Lycoperdon pyriforme

Lycoperdon pyriforme

Morganella pyriformis

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Cite this page as:

Kuo, M. (2008 November). Morganella pyriformis. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: