COMMENTS—Lycoperdon curtisii Berk. was once distinguished as Vascellum curtisii (Berk.) Kreisel, due to Smarda’s Vascellum distinction of a paper-like diaphragm separating the gleba from the subgleba. Among the distinctive characters defining species within Vascellum, Kreisel added eucapillitium being replaced by a dominance of paracapillitium within the gleba tissue, and a reduced pseudocolumella (Kreisel 1963, Larsson 2008). This North American species, Lycoperdon curtisii, has been considered identical to European collections of Vascellum pratense (Pers.) Kreisel by Hollós, except that V. curtisii has a thinner diaphragm, a smaller subgleba, and is overall reduced in size (Kreisel 1963, Ponce de Leon 1970). However, there are many features that distinguish these two species as being different. For one, the spore ornamentation seen with SEM is remarkably different between Lycoperdon curtisii and L. pratense, not to mention the slight difference in spore size, and the striking difference in overall size. In addition, the type for the genus Vascellum, V. depressum (Bonord.) F. Šmarda, has been accepted as a synonym of Lycoperdon pratense Pers. (Larsson 2008). This transfer reduces the genus Vascellum to synonymy with Lycoperdon.
The ML tree produced in this analysis shows Vascellum species (now in Lycoperdon) as a monophyletic clade within the Lycoperdon clade, with 92% bootstrap and 100% PP. In support of the claims above, Vascellum curtisii is placed within this Vascellum clade, and shows that it is distinct from Lycoperdon pratense. Two California specimens identified as Lycoperdon curtisii (SSJ 247, and SSJ 400) are distinct from two GenBank sequences identified as Vascellum curtisii (HQ235048, and HQ235043), representing material from both NC and HI, respectively. This suggests that additional analysis on many specimens from multiple locations coupled with multi loci gene analysis will be necessary to further clarify the taxonomic position of Lycoperdon curtisii within the Lycoperdaceae and better understand the nature of this puffball.
NOTES ON GENUS:
Lycoperdon Pers., Ann. Bot. (Usteri) 1: 4. 1794.
TYPE—Lycoperdon perlatum Pers., Observ. mycol. (Lipsiae) 1: 145. 1796.
Currently the largest genus in the Lycoperdaceae, Lycoperdon was circumscribed by Persoon in 1794, published in Annalen der Botanik ed. Usteri, Zurich. However, the genus predates this publication to the 1753 publication, Species Plantarum, by Carl Linnaeus, when it was a mix of organisms, including anything with a globose fruitbody (Demoulin 1973a, Bates 2004). Further contributions to Lycoperdon have been made by Cunningham (1942, 1979), Kreisel (1973), Demoulin (1972b, 1983), Jeppson (1984, 2006, 2010, 2011, 2012), Larsson and Jeppson (2008), and Pegler (1995), and others.
Lycoperdon is characterized by a fruitbody having a single apical pore, hyphae without clamps, and eucapillitium that are branched without having tapered tips. The eucapillitium is categorized as Lycoperdon-type, which means that the threads are mostly elastic, with very little dichotomous branching, poroid, and with variable thickness. As with most of the puffballs, Lycoperdon is a cosmopolitan genus. Several studies available, which describe the development and histology of fruitifications of Lycoperdon, such as; Rabinowitsch 1894, Swartz 1933, Ritchie 1948, Marchant 1969, and the book by Smith et al. 1981.
The genus currently has 441 species that have been recorded in Index Fungorum, 790 including all varieties. Lycoperdon is the type genus of the Lycoperdaceae, and Lycoperdon perlatum is the type species for the genus. There are twelve species reported in California: L. dermoxanthum, L. curtisii, L. molle, L. lloydianum, L. nigrescens, L. perlatum, L. pratense, L. pyriforme, L. subcretaceum, L. umbrinum, L. utriforme, and the provisional new species L. vernimontanum.