Public Description of Lycoperdon perlatum Pers.

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Name: Lycoperdon perlatum Pers.
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 Draft For 2008/2009 Eol University Species Pages Initiative By Kjetil Henderson (Private)
 Draft For Wild Mushrooms Of The Northeastern United States By Erlon (Private)
 Draft For Macrofungi Of The Pacific Northwest By Chaelthomas (Private)

Description status: Unreviewed
 (Latest review: 2013-04-12 12:35:11 CDT (-0400) by nathan)

Taxonomic Classification:

Domain: Eukarya
Kingdom: Fungi
Phylum: Basidiomycota
Class: Agaricomycetes
Order: Agaricales
Family: Agaricaceae

General Description:

Lycoperdon perlatum is roughly the shape of an inverted pear. The stem is fairly large and the top is rounded. 2.5-7 cm wide and 3-7.5 cm high. Small whitish warts cover the fruiting body when young, fall off with age and leave scars. A large perforation is found in the center of the puffball that facilitates spore dispersal via rain or wind. White and fleshy when young but changing eventually to an olive color with brown spore dust. Spores 3.5-4.5 um round, minutely spiny. Capillitial threads olive in KOH (3-7um wide).

Interestingly the genus name Lycoperdon translates as “Wolf fart.”

See Tom Volk’s page on puffballs

Diagnostic Description:

Lycoperdon pyriforme is similar, but almost always grows on wood.

Lycoperdon echinatum has a reddish tinge and is covered with spines. Lycoperdon mammiforme is white at first but breaks up into large cream scales rather than warts.


The common puffball is located throughout America and Europe. In temperate regions it grows in the summer and fall. However, in warmer habitats like California and the Gulf of Mexico it grows nearly year round. Usually found in the woods, but also can be located on roadsides or urban areas.


Saprophytic, growing on ground near hardwoods or conifers. Solitary, scattered or in clumps.

Look Alikes:

The genus Lycoperdon is distinguishable from the genus Scleroderma because it lacks a thick peridium and has a soft gleba (the internal portion where the spores are borne). In addition, Scleroderma has a dark gleba as compared to the white gleba of Lycoperdon. In addition, Scleroderma species are mycorrhizal, while Lycoperdon species are saprophytic.

Calvatia species are similar to Lycoperdon but are usually much larger.


Lycoperdon perlatum is edible when young, but needs to be avoided after white color fades. It is delicious sautéed in olive oil and butter after being dipped in egg and bread crumbs.

Some native American cultures used puffball spores as a salve for wounds. This has been reported to speed healing.

However, there are several cases of lycoperdosis known from inhaling large quantities of spores.


Lycoperdon perlatum is also called the common puffball.

Kjetil Henderson
7 Dec 2008
UW-La Crosse Mycology

Lycoperdon bonordenii Massee, J. Roy. Microscop. Soc.: 713 (1887)
Lycoperdon gemmatum Batsch, Elench. fung. (Halle): 147 (1783)
Lycoperdon gemmatum var. perlatum (Pers.) Fr., Syst. mycol. (Lundae) 3(1): 37 (1829)
Lycoperdon perlatum var. bonordenii (Massee) Perdeck, Blumea 6: 505 (1950)
Lycoperdon perlatum Pers., 1: 145 (1796) var. perlatum

Synonymy Contributor(s):
Kew Mycology (2011); Basidiomycota Checklist

Description authors: Tom Volk, kjetil henderson (Request Authorship Credit)
Description editors: Nathan Wilson, walt sturgeon

Created: 2008-12-25 20:03:55 CST (-0500) by Tom Volk (TomVolk)
Last modified: 2013-04-12 12:35:11 CDT (-0400) by Nathan Wilson (nathan)
Viewed: 811 times, last viewed: 2018-12-02 09:14:05 CST (-0500)