|Major Groups > Puffballs > Lycoperdon curtisii|
by Michael Kuo
This tiny, spiny puffball looks as though it should be easily identified, but there are several look-alikes, including Lycoperdon pulcherrimum. Ultimately, I confirm my identifications of Lycoperdon curtisii with a microscope (see microscopic features below), but the mushroom's habit of growing in clusters in grass is a good field character.
Lycoperdon curtisii usually maxes out at around 2 cm, and its long, soft spines are easily rubbed off. By maturity it often has a more or less smooth appearance, and the spines have been reduced to a whitish dust. It is shaped like a small ball, but often becomes contorted as it tries to grow should-to-shoulder with its clustered companions. Its interior is white and fleshy at first, but turns into an olive-colored dust with maturity.
Vascellum curtisii and Lycoperdon wrightii are synonyms.
Ecology: Saprobic; usually growing in tight clusters; found in grass, often in disturbed-ground areas like ditches—but also sometimes appearing on woodchips in landscaping areas; late summer and fall; widely distributed in North America. The illustrated and described collections are from Illinois.
Fruiting Body: Shaped like a small ball, 1–3 cm across, but frequently contorted as a result of clustered growth; densely spiny when young; spines 1–2 mm long, often joined at their tips, easily rubbing off; in maturity often fairly smooth, with a powdery coating; white becoming pale brownish; developing a small hole at the top, through which spore dust escapes; appearing pinched together at the bottom; with a white, fleshy interior at first; later with yellowish to olive granular flesh and eventually filled with brownish or purplish brown spore dust; base attached to white rhizoids.
Microscopic Features: Spores 2–3 µm; globose; minutely echinulate; hyaline in KOH; occasionally featuring a 1–2 µm pedical. Capillitial threads 3–5 µm; wide; branching; mostly thin-walled and hyaline in KOH.
REFERENCES: (Berkeley, 1859) Kreisel, 1963. (Coker & Couch, 1928; Smith, 1951; Kreisel, 1993; Barron, 1999; Roody, 2003; Calonge et al., 2004; McNeil, 2006; Miller & Miller, 2006; Cortez et al., 2013; Kuo & Methven, 2014; Jeppson, 2018.) Herb. Kuo 09210504, 10071804.
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Cite this page as:
Kuo, M. (2019, April). Lycoperdon curtisii. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: http://www.mushroomexpert.com/lycoperdon_curtisii.html