Major Groups > Puffballs > Lycoperdon subcretaceum


Lycoperdon subcretaceum

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

by Michael Kuo

Found under conifers in the mountains of western North America, Lycoperdon subcretaceum is a bit of a confusing puffball. To my eye it looks quite a bit like Scleroderma citrinum, since it develops warts and pyramid-shaped scales—but its interior is soft and white (turning to brown), not hard and black like the flesh of a Scleroderma. Lycoperdon subcreataceum has been tossed around from genus to genus; it was originally named Calvatia subcretacea by Zeller (1947), but it has since been placed in Gastropila and Handkea, as well. Most recently, DNA sequencing (see Bates 2004, Larsson & Jeppson 2010) supports placement of this species within Lycoperdon.


Ecology: Saprobic; usually growing alone or scattered; appearing in montane and subalpine conifer woods; summer and fall; distributed from the Rocky Mountains to the mountains of the West Coast. The illustrated and described collections are from Colorado.

Fruiting Body: 2.5–4 cm high; 3–5 cm wide; round or nearly so above a small or nearly absent, pinched sterile base; dry; covered with low, fairly broad warts and scales that are mostly pyramid-shaped, with 3–5 angular edges; scales white at first but soon becoming brown or brown-centered and sometimes developing a small, soft, protruding spine in the center; surface elsewhere whitish to pale tan; skin thin; flesh white and soft at first, then turning brownish and eventually turning into brown spore dust; flesh in sterile base white becoming brownish; odor not distinctive.

Microscopic Features: Spores 3–4.5 µ; subglobose; smooth or very finely verrucose; hyaline in KOH. Capillitial threads olive in KOH; 4–6 µm wide; thick-walled; smooth; with pores; fragmenting.

REFERENCES: (Zeller, 1947) Jeppson & E. Larsson, 2010. (Zeller & Smith, 1964; Smith, 1975; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1981; Arora, 1986; Kreisel, 1989; Bates, 2004; Jarvis, 2014; Desjardin, Wood & Stevens, 2016.) Herb. Kuo 08131506. Herb DBG RMNP 2008-073, 2008-080.

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Lycoperdon subcretaceum

Lycoperdon subcretaceum

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