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Scleroderma citrinum

[ Basidiomycetes > Boletales > Sclerodermataceae > Scleroderma . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

This puffball and its relatives have been the source of tremendous confusion recently, due to the revelation that they are closely related to boletes, especially those in Gyroporus. For more information on this odd twist of events, see this article.

Some authors call the mushrooms in Scleroderma "earthballs," to emphasize their differences from fleshier puffballs. Many Scleroderma species have tough outer rinds, and Scleroderma citrinum has a rind that is scaly and hard. When sliced, the rind stains pinkish. Inside, the spore mass is initially white, but soon begins to turn dark purple to purple-black, from the center outwards.

Scleroderma citrinum is the only mushroom that plays host to Boletus parasiticus, an extremely odd little bolete that actually parasitizes this puffball. See the illustration to the right. Go figure!


Ecology: Mycorrhizal with hardwoods and conifers; often found in mossy areas (occasionally on well-rotted wood); growing alone, scattered, or gregariously; widely distributed; summer and fall.

Fruiting Body: 2-10 cm across; round or flattened; the surface hard and scaly, yellowish to yellow-brown, often cracked; the "skin" whitish when sliced but blushing pinkish; sometimes gathered at the base, where mycelial strands may be found.

Spore Mass: Thick and white at first, becoming purple to purple-black from the center outwards; eventually blackish to brownish and dust-like.

Chemical Reactions: Surface dark reddish with KOH.

Microscopic Features: Spores 8-13 µ; round; prominently reticulate.

Scleroderma aurantium and Scleroderma vulgare are synonyms.

REFERENCES: Persoon, 1801. (Saccardo, 1888; Guzmán, 1970; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1981; Arora, 1986; Phillips, 1991/2005; Lincoff, 1992; Sims, Watling & Jeffries, 1995; Barron, 1999; Roody, 2003; McNeil, 2006; Miller & Miller, 2006.)

Further Online Information:

Scleroderma citrinum at Roger's Mushrooms


Scleroderma citrinum

Scleroderma citrinum

Scleroderma citrinum

Scleroderma citrinum

Scleroderma citrinum

Boletus parasiticus
Boletus parasiticus growing from S. citrinum

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Cite this page as:

Kuo, M. (2004, December). Scleroderma citrinum. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: