What You Should Know
Lycoperdon umbrinum is a type of Puffball mushroom in the genus Lycoperdon. It is a blackish puffball often misidentified as Lycoperdon nigrescens. The confusion is probably the result of conflicting interpretations in older field guides. It is found in China, Europe, and North America.
This mushroom is variable, the color of the exoperidium ranging from medium-brown, reddish-brown, to blackish brown.
Other names: Umber Puffball.
Lycoperdon umbrinum Mushroom Identification
Saprobic; growing alone, scattered, or gregariously; in woods under conifers; summer and fall, or over winter and in spring in warmer climates; widely distributed in North America.
3–7 cm high; 3–8 cm wide; usually pear-shaped; covered, especially on the top, with small (up to 1 mm) spines that protrude individually or aggregate at their tips; surface underneath spines usually visible, smooth and shiny or very slightly pitted where spines have fallen off; sometimes pale at first but usually darkening to brown or dark brown from the top downward; skin thin and papery; interior at first white, then turning into brown spore dust, with whitish to brownish flesh in a well-developed sterile base; base attached to white rhizomorphs.
Spores 3.5–5 µ; globose; smooth or very finely spiny (hard to see with light microscopy); olive-yellow in KOH. Capillitial threads olive-yellow in KOH; 3–5 µm wide; walls under 0.5 microns thick.
Lycoperdon molle is very similar—similar enough that its name has been interchanged with Lycoperdon umbrinum for the same mushrooms by the same mycologists (e.g. Smith 1951 and Smith, Smith & Weber, 1981). But according to current concepts (see Bates 2009, Jeppson 2018) the two species are distinct
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