Major Groups > Puffballs > Battarrea phalloides


Battarrea phalloides

[ Basidiomycetes > Agaricales > Agaricaceae > Battarrea . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

This funky mushroom looks like a puffball stuck on a long, shaggy spike. It seems to pop up out of nowhere to stand tall for months at a time, covering everything near it with rusty brown spore dust. In North America it is found primarily in desert areas and sagebrush plains, though it also appears in coastal back dunes along the West Coast. Microscopic features are probably not needed to identify Battarrea phalloides, but are well worth your time if you enjoy such things: it features amazing spiral "elators" that look like segmented worms.

"Battarraea" is a spelling sometimes applied. Battarrea laciniata is a likely synonym.

Battarrea stevenii, once separated on the basis of its gelatinous volva, is a synonym--or, better said, the species names Battarrea stevenii and Battarrea phalloides both represent incoherent entities, phylogenetically (see Martín & Johannesson, 2000), and "Battarrea phalloides" is the older incoherent name.

Thanks to Andrew Monie for collecting, documenting, and preserving Battarrea phalloides for study; his collection is deposited in The Herbarium of Michael Kuo.


Ecology: Presumably saprobic; growing alone or scattered in dry, sandy soil (coastal back dunes, deserts, sagebrush areas); spring and early summer (but persisting for many months), or in fall; western North America and Alaska.

Fruiting Body: At first appearing like an underground egg or lump; emerging and developing a long stem with an apical spore case.

Spore Case: 2-12 cm across; at maturity convex, with a flattened bottom; the "skin" bald and whitish or grayish, sloughing away on the underside to expose the spore mass.

Spore Mass: When mature rusty brown and powdery; abundant.

Stem: 7-50 cm long and up to 2 cm thick; very tough; hollow; whitish to brownish or brown; ridged or hairy, becoming lacerated-scaly; base enclosed in a whitish, underground volva that often disappears.

Microscopic Features: Spores 5-7 x 4.5-6 µ; subglobose to broadly elliptical; finely spiny, with spines mostly less than 0.5 µ high. Pseudocapillitial threads hyaline to ochraceous in KOH; 4-6 µ wide. Elators 50-75+ µ long; 3.5-7 µ wide; ochraceous in KOH; cylindrical to fusiform; with thickened spirals; abundant.

REFERENCES: (Dickson, 1785) Persoon, 1801. (Saccardo, 1888; Rea, 1942; Long, 1943; Dring, 1964; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1981; Arora, 1986; States, 1990; Lincoff, 1992; Martín & Johannesson, 2000; Esqueda et al., 2002; Hemmes & Desjardin, 2002; Miller & Miller, 2006.) Herb. Kuo 06151001.

This site contains no information about the edibility or toxicity of mushrooms.


Battarrea phalloides

Battarrea phalloides

Battarrea phalloides

Battarrea phalloides

Battarrea phalloides

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Kuo, M. (2011, January). Battarrea phalloides. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: