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

Lycoperdon perlatum Pers.
gem-studded puffball

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

Introduction to the Macrofungi

© Rosemary Taylor  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #64107)

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Distribution of Lycoperdon perlatum
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Species Information

Features include 1) pear-shaped or top-shaped whitish fruitbody, with slender, short, cone-shaped warts interspersed with smaller spines or granules, these warts falling off leaving scars in a mesh-like pattern at first, the spines white to gray, 2) the inner layer rupturing through a round hole at the top, 3) the spore mass firm and white at first, becoming soft and turning yellow, then olive, and finally darker brown and powdery, 4) the stem conic and about two thirds of the total height, the sterile base well developed with large chambers, 5) growth on the ground in a variety of habitats, and 6) round, minutely spiny spores. Lycoperdon perlatum is the commonest puffball in the Pacific Northwest and probably in North America.

New York Botanical Garden has collections from BC, WA, OR, ID, AB, NF, ON, PQ, AK, AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, FL, GA, HI, IA, IN, KS, MA, ME, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, PA, TN, VA, WI, WY, Jamaica, Panama, Brazil, Colombia, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Switzerland, United Kingdom, South Africa, China, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, (NYBG). It is also found in YT (Schalkwijk-Barendsen), and is reported from IL, KY, LA, MD, MI, MN, MO, OK, SC, TX, UT, VT, and WV, and India, (Bates).
Outer Surface:
1.5-6(9)cm across, 3-7(10)cm high, pear-shaped or top-shaped or nearly spherical "with narrowed often wrinkled stem-like base"; outer layer "of slender, short, cone-shaped spines interspersed with smaller spines or granules, the larger ones leaving scars" when they fall off, "spines white to gray", (Arora), up to 6cm across, 3-8cm high, "sometimes rounded but usually flattened and lens-shaped" with an abrupt transition to the stem; "whitish when young, then ocherish-brownish, olive-brown when old"; "covered with conical larger warts with smaller ones between them", "lower surface of the head pitted-folded", (Breitenbach), warts white (later brown-tipped), "usually separated from smaller surrounding ones by a narrow bare space and leaving a fairly distinctive pattern" when large warts drop first, (McKnight)
Inner layer:
at first with scars, but often smooth when old, white to tan becoming yellowish brown to grayish brown or dark brown when old; rupturing through a pore at top, (Arora), membranous, tough, reticulate [net-like] pattern after warts fall off, rupturing to form a round pore at top when mature, (Breitenbach), warts rubbing off to leave an indistinct mesh-like pattern underneath, (Phillips)
Spore Mass:
firm and white at first, "soon becoming soft and turning yellow, then olive", and finally becoming dark olive-brown to chocolate brown or brown and powdery, (Arora), "white when young, then olive to olive-brown", (Breitenbach), at first white, then ocher-brown, (Lincoff(1))
sterile base large, well developed, with chambers, "at first white and spongy, then yellow, olive, brown, or chocolate-colored", (Arora), stem conic, about two thirds of the total height and up to 3cm wide, surface warty when young but smooth when old; sterile base inside white when young, then olive to olive-brown, larger chambered than spore-mass, (Breitenbach), sterile base with large chambers, forming a thick, often persistent stem, (McKnight)
none (Miller)
mild (Miller)
spores 3.5-4.5 x 3.5-4.5 microns, round, minutely spiny, (Arora), spores 3.5-4.5 x 3.5-4.5 microns, round, finely verrucose, brown, rather thick-walled; basidia 2-4-spored, 7-10 x 4-5 microns, short-clavate, without basal clamp connection; capillitial threads 2.5-7 microns wide, brownish, without septa, elastic, thin-walled to thick-walled, smooth or with bumps, with occasional pores [pits], (Breitenbach), spores with no pedicel (McKnight)

Habitat / Range

single, scattered, gregarious, or clustered, "on ground in woods and under trees, along roads, or sometimes in the open", usually fruiting in fall or winter, (Arora), usually gregarious, more rarely single, on soil and needle litter in conifer or mixed forests, more rarely outside forests, summer to fall, (Breitenbach), "on ground in conifer or hardwood forests or on mulch or compost piles" (Bessette), "in woods of various kinds, also in lawns or on cultivated ground", (Ammirati)

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Irpiciporus lacteus (Fr.) Murrill
Lycoperdon gemmatum Batsch
Sistotrema lacteum Fr.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Range and Status Information Links


edible when firm and white inside, not if there is the slightest trace of yellow, "bland at best and bitter at worst", (Arora)

Additional Photo Sources

Related Databases

Species References

Breitenbach(1)*, Arora(1)*, Phillips(1)*, Lincoff(2)*, Lincoff(1)*, Bessette(2)*, Ammirati(1)*, Schalkwijk-Barendsen(1)*, Courtecuisse(1)*, McKnight(1)*, Trudell(4)*, Miller(14)*, Sept(1)*, Redhead(5), NYBG(1) (accessed Sep. 24, 2004), Bates(1), AroraPocket*, Desjardin(6)*, Siegel(2)*, Marrone(1)*

References for the fungi

General References