Major Groups > Puffballs > Lycoperdon caudatum


Lycoperdon caudatum

[ Basidiomycota > Agaricales > Agaricaceae > Lycoperdon . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

Lycoperdon caudatum is yet another sort-of-spiny, small-to-medium-sized, pear-shaped puffball, perhaps best recognized by eliminating contenders that are more easily identified. Unlike Lycoperdon perlatum, its spines are not cone-shaped and do not leave spots when they fall off; unlike Lycoperdon marginatum the spines do not slough off in shingles and layers to reveal a granular undersurface; unlike Lycoperdon pulcherrimum the spines are not very long; and unlike Lycoperdon umbrinum the surface is not brown.

Ultimately, however, the most distinctive feature of Lycoperdon caudatum is microscopic: it features spores with short to very long tails—pedicels, in Mycologese. Thus it was originally named "Lycoperdon pedicellatum" by Peck (1873). But Peck was apparently unaware that this name had already been used (for a completely different mushroom) so his name is unfortunately invalid, despite the fact that he was the first to name the species.


Ecology: Saprobic; growing alone, scattered, or gregariously; in woods under hardwoods or conifers, usually associated with woody debris (or even growing from well-decayed deadwood); sometimes appearing in spring, but usually found in fall; widely distributed in North America but more commonly collected east of the Rocky Mountains. The illustrated and described collection is from Illinois.

Fruiting Body: 4–6 cm high; 3–5 cm wide; pear-shaped; covered with small (up to 1 mm) whitish to brownish spines that protrude individually or aggregate at their tips; surface underneath spines smooth or somewhat pitted where spines have fallen off; inner skin thin and papery; interior at first white, then turning into olive spore dust, with whitish to yellowish flesh in a fairly well-developed sterile base.

Microscopic Features: Spores 3–4.5 µ; globose; finely spiny; pedicellate with a 2–20 µm-long pedicel. Capillitial threads hyaline to olive in KOH; 1.5–3.5 µm wide; thick-walled.

REFERENCES: J. Schröter, 1889. (Peck, 1873; Coker & Couch, 1928; Smith, 1951; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1981; Demoulin, 1983; Breitenbach & Kränzlin, 1986; Kim et al., 2016; Yuri, 2016; Jeppson, 2018.) Herb. Kuo 10090306.

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Lycoperdon caudatum

Lycoperdon caudatum

Lycoperdon caudatum
Capillitial thread and spores

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Kuo, M. (2019, January). Lycoperdon caudatum. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: