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Puffballs

[ Basidiomycetes . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

The term "puffball," as I am using it here, is not at all scientific; I mean more or less any mushroom that looks like a ball when mature. Typically the interior of a puffball is composed of spore-bearing flesh. When the puffball matures it splits open, or a perforation develops on surface of the ball, through which the spores escape--when raindrops land on the puffball, via air currents, or by some other means.

Puffballs range widely in size and appearance--from tiny species that grow in clusters on wood, to large, terrestrial species growing in fairy rings in meadows. A few species, like Calvatia gigantea, are enormous, reaching diameters of 50 cm! I am including the "earthstars" with the puffballs since they consist, at maturity, of a puffball sitting atop a star-shaped arrangement of fleshy arms--as well as the so-called "stalked puffballs," which consist of a ball-like spore case that sits atop a stem.

When sliced open, puffballs contain only flesh--or, if they have matured, spore dust. This separates them from buttons of some gilled mushrooms that have universal veils and can appear like puffballs, since those mushrooms display the future mushroom in cross-section. Some slime molds can appear like puffballs, as well, but when sliced open they are filled with gooey, gelatinous material. Stinkhorn "eggs" are also gelatinous inside, and display the stinkhorn-to-be when sliced open.

Taxonomically, the term "puffballs" is incoherent, since they are so diverse and come from many different families and genera. They are all Basidiomycetes, since their spores are produced on basidia--but some belong in the gilled mushroom order (many in the Lycoperdaceae family) while others are more closely related to the boletes and a few are related to the stinkhorns, according to recent DNA research.

If your puffball is growing underground, it may well be a truffle or false truffle. I have not yet treated these mushrooms at MushroomExpert.Com--and, to be frank, I know virtually nothing about them; I recommend Arora (1986) for a thorough introductory treatment.

Species Pages

 

Puffball

Lycoperdon pyriforme

Calvatia rubroflava

Amanita button
Amanita button in cross-section

Geastrum saccatum

Vascellum curtisii




References: Keys

Arora, D. (1986). Mushrooms demystified: A comprehensive guide to the fleshy fungi. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press. 959 pp.

Coker, W. C. & Couch, J. N. (1928). The Gasteromycetes of the eastern United States and Canada. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. Reprinted by Dover Publications, 1974.

Demoulin, V. (1976). Species of Lycoperdon with a setose exoperidium. Mycotaxon 3: 275-296.

Kreisel, H. (1993). A key to Vascellum (Gasteromycetidae) with some floristic notes. Blyttia 51: 125-129.

Kreisel, H. (1994). Studies in the Calvatia complex (Basidiomycetes) 2. Feddes Repertorium 105: 369-376.

Miller, O. K. & Miller, H. H. (1988). Gasteromycetes: Morphological and developmental features with keys to the orders, families, and genera. Eureka, CA: Mad River Press. 157 pp.

Morales, M. I. & J. W. Kimbrough (1978). The Lycoperdaceae of North Central Florida. I. The genera Calvatia and Disciseda. Revista de Biologia Tropical 26: 227-236.

Ponce de Leon, P. (1968). A revision of the family Geasteraceae. Fieldiana: Botany 31: 302-349.

Ramsey, R. (1978/2003). Trial field key to the Lycoperdaceae & Geastraceae in the Pacific Northwest. Retrieved February 27, 2006 from the Pacific Northwest Key CouncilWeb site: http://www.svims.ca/council/Lycope.htm

Smith, A. H. (1951). Puffballs and their allies in Michigan. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. 131 p. This book can be found online here, at the University of Michigan Herbarium.

Smith, A. H., Smith, H. V. & Weber, N. S. (1981). How to know the non-gilled mushrooms. Dubuque, Iowa: Wm. C. Brown. 324 p.

Stevens, F. (n.d.). Key to common California puffballs. Retrieved October, 2008 from the MykoWeb Web site: http://mykoweb.com/CAF/keys/Puffball_key.pdf

Wright, J. E. (1987). The genus Tulostoma (Gasteromycetes)--A world monograph. Bibliotheca Mycologica 113. Berlin: J. Cramer. 338 pp.

Zeller, S. M. & Smith, A. H. (1964). The genus Calvatia in North America. Lloydia 27: 148-186.


Further References

Baseia, I. G. & A. I. Milanez (2002). Geastrum setiferum (Gasteromycetes): a new species with a setose endoperidium. Mycotaxon 84: 135-139.

Baseia, I. G., M. A, Cavalcanti & A. I. Milanez (2003). Additions to our knowledge of the genus Geastrum (Phallales, Geastraceae) in Brazil. Mycotaxon 85: 409-416.

Baseia, I. G. (2003). Contribution to the study of the genus Calvatia (Lycoperdaceae) in Brazil. Mycotaxon 88: 107-112.

Baseia, I. G. (2005). Some notes on the genera Bovista and Lycoperdon (Lycoperdaceae) in Brazil. Mycotaxon 91: 81-86.

Baseia, I. G. & Calonge, F. D. (2006). Geastrum hirsutum: a new earthstar fungus with a hairy exoperidium. Mycotaxon 95: 301-304.

Bates, S. T. (2004). Arizona members of the Geastraceae and Lycoperdaceae (Basidiomycotina, Fungi). Masters thesis, Arizona State University. Available online here.

Binder, M. & Bresinsky, A. (2002). Derivation of a polymorphic lineage of Gasteromycetes from boletoid anscestors. Mycologia 94, 85-98.

Burk, W. R. & Lupone, G. F. (1979). Pisolithus tinctorius, a pavement breaker in southern California. Mycotaxon 8: 469-470.

Calonge, F. D., M. Mata & J. Carranza (2003). Calvatia sporocristata sp. nov. (Gasteromycetes) from Costa Rica. Revista de Biologica Tropical 51: 79-84.

Calonge, F. D., M. Mata & J. Carranza (2005). Contribucion al catalogo de los Gasteromycetes (Basidiomycotina, Fungi) de Costa Rica. Anales del Jardin Botanico de Madrid 62: 23-45.

Cortez, V. G., F. D. Calonge & I. G. Baseia (2007). Rick's species revision 2: Lycoperdon benjaminii recombined in Morganella. Mycotaxon 102: 425-429.

Demoulin, V. (1972). Especes nouvelles ou meconnues du genre Lycoperdon (Gasteromycetes). Lejeunia 62: 1-30.

Demoulin, V. (1973). Phytogeography of the fungal genus Lycoperdon in relation to the opening of the Atlantic. Nature 242: 123-125.

Demoulin, V. & M. Lange (1990). Calvatia turneri (Ellis et Everh.) Demoulin et M. Lange, comb. nov., the correct name for C. tatrensis Hollos. Mycotaxon 38: 221-226.

Demoulin, V. (1993). Calvatia pachyderma (Peck) Morg. and Gastropila fragilis (Lev.) Homrich et Wright, two possible names for the same fungus. Mycotaxon 46: 77-84.

Douanla-Meli, C., E. Langer & F. D. Calonge (2005). Geastrum pleosporus sp. nov., a new species of Geastraceae identified by morphological and molecular data. Mycological Progress 4: 239-250.

Esqueda, M., T. Herrera, E. Perez-Silva, A. Aparicio & G. Moreno (2002). Distribution of Battarrea phalloides in Mexico. Mycotaxon 82: 207-214.

Fazolino, E. P., F. D. Calonge & I. G. Baseia (2008). Geastrum entomophilum, a new earthstar with an unusual spore dispersal strategy. Mycotaxon 104: 449-453.

Gube, M. (2007). The gleba development of Langermannia gigantea (Batsch: Pers.) Rostk. (Basidiomycetes) compared to other Lycoperdaceae, and some systematic implications. Mycologia 99: 396-405.

Homrich, M. H. & J. E. Wright (1973). South American Gasteromycetes. The genera Gastropodia, Lanopila and Mycenastrum. Mycologia 65: 779-794.

Hughey, B. D., G. C. Adams, T. D. Bruns & D. S. Hibbett (2000). Phylogeny of Calostoma, the gelatinous-stalked puffball, based on nuclear and mitochondrial ribosomal DNA sequences. Mycologia 92: 94-104.

Kreisel, H. (1989). Studies in the Calvatia complex (Basidiomycetes). Nova Hedwigia 48: 281-296.

Kreisel, H. (1992) An emendation and preliminary survey of the genus Calvatia (Gasteromycetidae). Persoonia 14: 431-439.

Kruger, D., M. Binder, M. Fischer & H. Kreisel (2001). The Lycoperdales: A molecular approach to the systematics of some gasteroid mushrooms. Mycologia 93: 947-957.

Kruger, D. & H. Kreisel (2003). Proposing Morganella subgen. Apioperdon subgen. nov. for the puffball Lycoperdon pyriforme. Mycotaxon 86: 169-177.

Lange, M. (1990). Arctic Gasteromycetes II. Calvatia in Greenland, Svalbard and Iceland. Nordic Journal of Botany 9: 525-546.

Lange, M. (1993). Classifications in the Calvatia group. Blyttia 51: 141-144.

Lloyd, C. G. (1908). Mycological Writings. Volume II. Cincinnati.

Long, W. H. (1943). Studies in the Gasteromycetes: VIII. Battarrea laciniata. Mycologia 35: 546-556.

Long, W. H. (1946). Studies in the Gasteromycetes: XII. Five species of Tylostoma with membranous exoperidia. Mycologia 38: 77-90.

Magallon-Puebla, S. & S. R. S. Cevallos-Ferriz (1993). A fossil earthstar (Geastraceae; Gasteromycetes) from the late Cenozoic of Puebla, Mexico. American Journal of Botany 80: 1162-1167.

Martín, M. P. (1997). Exoperidium and spores of Calvatia utriformis. Mycotaxon 61: 381-387.

Martín, M. P. & H. Johannesson (2000). Battarrea phalloides and B. stevenii, insight into a long-standing taxonomic puzzle. Mycotaxon 76: 67-75.

Miller, O. K. Jr., H. H. Burdsall, Jr., G. A. Laursen & I. B. Sachs (1980). The status of Calvatia cretacea in arctic and alpine tundra. Canadian Journal of Botany 58: 2533-2542.

Miller, O. K. Jr. & W. B. Askew (1982). The genus Gastrosporium in North America. Canadian Journal of Botany 60: 364-368.

Miller, O. K. Jr., R-L. Brace & V. Evenson (2005). A new subspecies of Mycenastrum corium from Colorado. Mycologia 97: 530-533.

Ochoa, C., N. Ayala, G. Guzman & L. Montoya (1990). Contribucion al conocimiento de los Gasteromycetes de la peninsula de Baja California, Mexico. Brenesia 33: 51-60.

Ochoa, C., G. Moreno, A. Altes & H. Kreisel (1998). Calvatia pygmaea (Gasteromycetes) in the deserts of Baja California Sur (Mexico). Cryptogamie, Mycologie 19: 131-137.

Portman, R., R. Moseman & E. Levetin (1997). Ultrastructure of basidiospores in North American members of the genus Calvatia. Mycotaxon 62: 435-443.

Ramsey, R. W. (1980). Lycoperdon nettyana, a new puffball from western Washington State. Mycotaxon 11: 185-188.

Rea, P. M. (1942). Fungi of southern California. I. Mycologia 34: 563-574.

Ritchie, D. (1948). The development of Lycoperdon oblongisporum. American Journal of Botany 35: 215-219.

Smith, C. W. & P. Ponce de Leon (1982). Hawaiian geastroid fungi. Mycologia 74: 712-717.

White, V. S. (1901). The Tylostomaceae of North America. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 28: 421-444

Wilson, A. W., E. A. Hobbie & D. S. Hibbett (2007). The ectomycorrhizal status of Calostoma cinnabarinum determined using isotopic, molecular, and morphological methods. Canadian Journal of Botany 85: 385-393.

Wright, J. E. (1990). Calvatia pachyderma (Peck) Morgan is Gastropila fragilis (Lev.) Homrich & Wright. Mycotaxon 37: 187-189.



Cite this page as:

Kuo, M. (2008, November). Puffballs. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: http://www.mushroomexpert.com/puffballs.html

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