Common Puffball

Common Puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum)
Common Puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum)

While mushrooming before the current cold snap we came across some Common Puffballs (Lycoperdon perlatum) along the roadside in Miracle Beach Provincial Park. Like the name suggests, this puffball is one of the typical puffballs commonly seen and is widely distributed in North America.

Common Puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum)
Common Puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum)

There are several types of puffballs but those in Lycoperdon are characterized by an apical pore (a hole in the top of a the mature spore case) and a sterile base that is well developed and stemlike. The surface of puffballs in this genus is often covered with a layer of particles, warts or spines.

The spores of this species begin as a firm, white mass that gradually becomes yellow, then olive, and finally dark brown or olive brown and powdery. The sterile base is also white and spongy at first but changes colour to become yellowish, brown or olive in colour as the puffball matures. The puff of the puffball is the mechanism by which the spores are released. I collected one of these puffballs and cut it open to see the spore mass inside (see below).

Common Puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum) spore mass.
Common Puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum) spore mass.

If you’ve enjoyed this (belated) Macro Monday entry you might like to peruse more blog posts about the small and tiny at:

Macro Monday

6 comments

  1. Do you eat the puffballs? They’re all edible, as long as the flesh is still white.

    We skin them (quite a job, if they’re small) and fry them up, briefly, in butter. Worth the work.

  2. Hi Susannah – I’ve never actually eaten puffballs but am thinking that they’re worth a try. Even though these are edible (before they start producing spores of course) I didn’t really want to recommend eating them in this blog in case someone mistakenly harvests an amanita button thinking it was a puffball!

  3. Thanks for stopping by Dave. I love your photos and always interesting commentary. My wife had a cat named puffball once.

  4. Fascinating photos. I wonder how big these cuties are? Something for scale would have helped me visualize their reality, as I have never seen one. Are they 3″ or 9″, I wonder? In any case, very beautiful, and beautifully lit also.

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