Observation 64647: Bovista pila Berk. & M.A. Curtis
When: 2011-03-23
No herbarium specimen

Notes: I almost passed this over thinking it was an insect gall. It was lying on top of the leaf litter under hard woods on the edge of a pine plantation. Two other specimens were located nearby.

Proposed Names

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Recognized by sight
29% (1)
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29% (1)
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52% (3)
Recognized by sight
72% (7)
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Recognized by sight

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tumbling puffball
By: Dan Molter (shroomydan)
2011-03-24 12:45:35 PDT (-0700)

Bovista pila looks like a good match.


Agaricales Family Description

Round, becoming detached and rolling about; with white outer skin flaking off to reveal smooth, shiny, bronze spore sac. Mushroom: 1 1/4-3 1/2" (3-9 cm) wide; round or nearly so; attached to ground by single small cord, which breaks at maturity; outer skin pure white, becoming dark pinkish and flaking off in patches; inner skin smooth, shiny, bronze, with cracks or pore opening at top. Spore mass white, then brown. Spores: 3.5-4.3 u; round, smooth, with short, colorless stalk; deep brown.

June-October; overwinters.

B. plumbea is smaller, bluish-gray with age, and attached to ground by clump of fibrous strands.

Single to scattered or many, in pastures, around stables, and in open woods.

Widely distributed in North America.

A common mushroom of grassy areas and pastures, this species grows nearly year-round; hardy ones overwinter and tumble about, unattached to the ground.


substrate attachment
By: Danny Newman (myxomop)
2011-03-24 12:22:46 PDT (-0700)

could be difficult to determine if these did in fact endure a full winter, but it would be diagnostic for B. pila if even a trace of a basal mycelial cord could be confirmed or denied.

brown spore mass
By: Dan Molter (shroomydan)
2011-03-24 11:46:38 PDT (-0700)

I would hesitate to call it purple brown; it’s more a straight brown-brown. They do appear to be the same as those in damonbrunette’s link.

I don’t see any purple
By: Noah Siegel (Noah)
2011-03-24 11:46:33 PDT (-0700)

it’s also the wrong shape and seems to be lacking a sterile base. I would be more inclined to call this a Bovista

I’m looking
By: damon brunette (damonbrunette)
2011-03-24 09:56:32 PDT (-0700)

At this on an iPhone. I thought it was brown purple here. What do u think it might be?

By: Noah Siegel (Noah)
2011-03-24 06:14:12 PDT (-0700)

Calvatia cyathiformis have a purplish-brown spore mass?

Mxyo correct
By: damon brunette (damonbrunette)
2011-03-24 06:03:56 PDT (-0700)
yes probably over-wintered
By: Dan Molter (shroomydan)
2011-03-23 21:16:37 PDT (-0700)

But the cool thing is that they are still very young in so far as spore dispersal is concerned.

By: Danny Newman (myxomop)
2011-03-23 21:13:26 PDT (-0700)

the petrified, overwintered carcasses from puffballs of yesteryear?

Tough puffball
By: Dan Molter (shroomydan)
2011-03-23 20:21:33 PDT (-0700)

These puff balls were very light and not readily compressed. I had to squeeze hard on it to make it release spores. I really did think this was an insect gall when I first saw it. Turns out to be the most intriguing find of the day.

A tumble weed puffball in March is new to me. If this is interesting to somebody else, I can send the specimen.

Created: 2011-03-23 12:59:02 PDT (-0700)
Last modified: 2016-01-08 17:08:53 PST (-0800)
Viewed: 265 times, last viewed: 2016-10-24 10:31:48 PDT (-0700)
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