Full taxonomic description:

Habitat: Mycenastrum corium is a species that seems to favor very fertile soils. It is often found growing on dung heaps, compost piles, in very tall grass, or in open fields that get fertilized on a regular basis. Often reoccurring in a perennial growing pattern, this puffball can be collected on disturbed ground where there is heavy foot traffic, and in sandy soil. Fruiting in early winter after light rain, or in spring after heavy rain, this is a common puffball in years when the conditions are correct. Occurring as caespitose clusters, in triplets or pairs, singularly, or in gregarious rings. Typically, up to one-third of the fruitbody will be rooted in the soil, but not completely subhypogeous. Sometimes breaking away from the point of attachment at maturity, the gasterocarp will roll along the ground with the wind and disperse spores, or remain attached to the soil. The original description describes its occurrence along sandy coastlines in France, so it may be possible to collect Mycenastrum corium along the coasts of California. Among these Geographic Subdivisions of California, this species is found in the Great Central Valley, rarely in the Sierra Nevada, in Central Western California, Southwestern California.

Distribution: Known only from the Western United States, and previously reported from Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Texas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Also reported from Africa, Australia, Austria, British Colombia, Canada, Hungary, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Scandinavia, South Africa, and South America: Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay.

Comments: Mycenastrum corium once regarded as a monotypic genus (Homrich and Wright 1973), is now described as sixteen species on Index Fungorum. There is a wide range in gasterocarp shape and color of the gleba tissue, which is why there are many synonyms for Mycenastrum corium. Some have speculated that the red to orange color of the gleba in some specimens legitimized the recognition of a new subspecies, Mycenastrum corium ssp. ferrugineum (O.K. Miller 2005). The stellate splitting and hardening of the peridium layers is unique to this puffball, as well as the microscopic characters of the eucapillitium and spores. Calvatia pachyderma and Calvatia fragilis are both medium to large-sized puffballs, which might become misidentified as Mycenastrum corium when very old specimens are found. All three of these will grow in grasslands and have thick peridium layers that will slough off until only a cup-like base remains in the soil. Four sequences of Mycenastrum corium from both California and Europe form a monophyletic group outside of the Lycoperdaceae with 100% bootstrap and 100% PP support. The ITS sequence data suggests that this species is outside of the Lycoperdaceae clade, and closer related to Lepiota cristata. The next closest puffball in relation to Mycenastrum corium is Abstoma townei, (which also has pitted spores), but with quite a distance and no support. This suggests that additional genes should be sequenced to further clarify the taxonomic position of Mycenastrum corium amongst the Lycoperdaceae.

Species Lists


Mycenastrum corium: [1.] Photo image of a herbarium specimen (scale: inches) [2.] LM of Mycenastrum-type eucapillitia at 40x (scale: 20 µm) [3.] LM of eucapillitium and pitted spores at 100x under oil emersion (scale: 5 µm) [4.] SEM image of ramified branching eucapillitium with pitted spores at 3,...
Dried herbarium collection

Proposed Names

91% (2)
Recognized by sight: see link to taxonomic description
Used references: The Lycoperdaceae of California, Thesis by Steph Jarvis
Based on microscopic features: see link to taxonomic description

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