E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Lycoperdon molle Pers.
smooth puffball

Species account author: Ian Gibson.
Extracted from Matchmaker: Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest.

Introduction to the Macrofungi
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Distribution of Lycoperdon molle
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Species Information

Features include 1) a stemmed to pear-shaped fruitbody that is grayish brown to milky coffee in color with short gray-brown spines (some leaning together at tips) merging into granules, 2) opening by a rather large pore, 3) a spore mass that is dark brown tinged purplish or olive, 4) a pseudostem that is often prominent, internally chambered, 5) growth in forests in late summer and fall, 6) round spores, and 7) pitted capillitium.

Lycoperdon molle was collected in AZ - it is known from throughout the United States, and previously reported from AL, CA, CO, CT, DE, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, MA, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OR, PA, SD, TN, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, and WY, Canada, Europe and the United Kingdom, (Bates). The New York Botanical Garden has a collection from OR, collected by S.M. Zeller and determined by V. Demoulin, as well as another from OR and four from WA, three of which were determined by V. Demoulin. NYBG also has collections from AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, IA, IN, KS, ME, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, WV, and WY, (NYBG(1)). The University of British Columbia has 4 collections from BC labeled as this species. It has been reported from AB (Schalkwijk-Barendsen), ON (Bowerman), and Europe including Switzerland (Breitenbach).
Outer Surface:
2-4(6)cm across, 2.5-5(7)cm high, spherical, pear-shaped, to top-shaped, with base drawn out like a stem, outer layer "with short, simple, soft, gray-brown spines, some of which lean together at the tips, surface between them granular-furfuraceous, brown", (Breitenbach), fruitbody 1-4(7)cm across, up to 6cm high, stemmed to pear-shaped; grayish brown to milky coffee with spines merging into granules, spines not rigid, (Smith), spore case typically taller than wide, (McKnight)
Inner layer:
cream to yellow-brown, entire fruitbody smooth after spines fall off, pore at top releases the red-brown to chocolate-brown spores, (Breitenbach), opening by a rather large pore (Smith), wide irregular pore (McKnight)
Spore Mass:
"olive-brown, +/- distinct columella visible", (Breitenbach), dark brown tinged purplish (Smith), dark brown (McKnight), white, dark brown in maturity, (Phillips)
sterile base white, large-chambered, (Breitenbach), sterile base often prominent, internally chambered (Smith), sterile base "well developed, with large chambers", often nearly as wide as fertile part of spore case but sometimes narrowed to a distinct stem, (McKnight), sterile base showing a definite rise into the spore mass (Schalkwijk-Barendsen)
spores 4-5.5 x 4-5.5 microns (excluding warts), round, coarsely verrucose, light brown, "some with indistinct remnant of the sterigma, with many detached remnants of the sterigmata 10-20 microns long lying round about" in microscopic mount; basidia not seen; capillitial threads 1.5-6 microns wide, brown, sinuous, sparsely septate, thick-walled, with pores of various sizes, (Breitenbach), spores (3.6)4.0-5.2 x (3.6)4.0-5.2 microns, round, "strongly verrucose, pedicels litter the mount"; capillitial threads up to 6(10) microns wide, pitted, (Smith)
Spore Deposit:
red-brown (Breitenbach)

Habitat / Range

on soil and humus in either hardwood or coniferous forests, late summer and fall, (Smith), Oregon collection on ground in logged off land; two Seattle collections in moist virgin forest, (NYBG), usually gregarious, on soil in hardwood and coniferous forests, summer to fall, (Breitenbach)

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Meruliopsis albostraminea (Torrend) Julich & Stalpers
Merulius albostramineus Torrend

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Range and Status Information Links


edible when flesh is completely white (Phillips)

Additional Photo Sources

Related Databases

Species References

Breitenbach(2)*, Smith(4), Phillips(1)*, McKnight(1)*, Schalkwijk-Barendsen(1)*; Bowerman(1), Bates(1), NYBG(1) (accessed Sep. 24, 2004), Buczacki(1)*, Desjardin(6)*

References for the fungi

General References