Lycoperdon Perlatum: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Lycoperdon Perlatum Mushroom
Lycoperdon Perlatum is a widespread puffball Agaricales with a cosmopolitan distribution, Lycoperdon perlatum is a saprobic fungus feeding on humus and decaying organic matter. The fruitbodies are club-, pear-, or almost pestle-shaped. They occur singly or more often in clusters, on soil and amongst leaf litter in woods under hardwoods or conifers. It can also occur in grassy places and along roadsides. Fruiting throughout the autumn.
When mature it becomes brown, and a hole in the top opens to release spores in a burst when the body is compressed by touch or falling raindrops.
Lycoperdon Perlatum is considered to be a good edible mushroom when young when the gleba is still homogeneous and white. They have been referred to as "poor man's sweetbread" due to their texture and flavor.
The fruit bodies can be eaten after slicing and frying in batter or egg and breadcrumbs or used in soups as a substitute for dumplings. As early as 1861, Elias Fries recommended them dried and served with salt, pepper, and oil.
Other names: Common Puffball, Warted Puffball, Gem-studded Puffball, Wolf Farts, The Devil's Snuff-bo.
Lycoperdon Perlatum Identification
In the shape of an overturned pear, subglobose, resembling a pestle, with whitish colors, then cream, and finally with brown shades. The outer part, the exoperidium, is formed by cone-shaped and truncated spines easily rubbed off, surrounded by small warts. When the spines, with the ripening or with the time, fall down, the exoperidium remains decorated by a typical reticulated pattern. The endoperidium is smooth, membranous, thin, opaque, elastic and soft with the humidity, from cream to ochre-grey color.
Initially white and firm, then becoming, when ripe, olive-yellowish, brown and converting to dust formed by spores and capillitium. The dispersal of the spores happens through the opening of a small hole at the apex of the carpophore (apical dehiscence). The well-developed subgleba forms the whole pseudo-stem and is formed by well visible small cells.
Mainly terricolous, ubiquitous in conifer forests as well as in broadleaf ones.
Spherical, with thick walls; 3.5-4.5µm in diameter.
Olive-brown, turning dark brown when fully mature. Within the spore-bearing gleba there is a network of occasionally-branching sterile yellowish-brown tubes (known as capillitia - singular capillitium) 3-7µm wide. Randomly distributed along the thick-walled capillitia are pores formed by narrowing of the walls.
3,5-4,5 µm, globose and warty spores, some with the sterigma still attached. Exoperidium of pseudo-parenchymatic structure with rounded or strongly ellipsoidal spherocysts and with a thin wall.
Lycoperdon Perlatum Look-Alikes
Similar puffballs tend to have softer, skinnier spines.
It grows on wood.
Is darker, with a reddish tinge, and is covered in spines.
Is white at first and then its surface breaks up into large cream scales rather than pearly warts.
Lycoperdon Perlatum Health Benefits
Lycoperdon perlatum contains useful, biologically active components. Using different methods of extraction from the fruiting body of Lycoperdon perlatum (water, methanol and ethanol), the microbial activity of the mushroom was tested on bacteria. Antimicrobial activity was demonstrated against Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli, Bacillus cereus, Candida albicans and Candida glabrata in the methanol and ethanol Lycoperdon perlatum extracts. The water-based extract was also resistant to all bacterial strains except for Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
When compared to other mushrooms, Lycoperdon perlatum showed the most antimicrobial activity in vitro, a zone of 15mm of no microbial activity in the presence of the extract was considered highly active. Lycoperdon perlatum showed a microbial inhibition zone of 24mm for Bacillus subtilis with 19mm and 18mm, respectively for Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus.
Healing properties and prevention of bleeding
North American Indians used puffballs for medicinal purposes, in particular as a styptic (able to stop a wound bleeding when applied). The soft, center of dried and immature puffballs, when broken up and then applied onto the broken skin or wound, helps to prevent continued bleeding. The Cherokee Indians also used it as a healing agent for sores. It is also reported that the fibrous mass that is left after the spores have escaped the puffball can be used as a wound dressing.
Reactive oxygen species can cause extensive damage to cells, so the search for biologically active compounds to mitigate the effects continues. The antioxidant properties were considerable when water extracts of Lycoperdon perlatum were examined compared to other mushrooms, showing the highest radical-scavenging activity (43.2% at a dose concentration of 4.0mg/ml).
Lycoperdon Perlatum Taxonomy & Etymology
This fungus was described by Christiaan Hendrik Persoon in 1796 when he named it Lycoperdon perlatum - still its accepted scientific name today. Even so, Lycoperdon perlatum has acquired a few synonyms over the past couple of centuries; they include Lycoperdon gemmatum Batsch, Lycoperdon perlatum var. perlatum Pers., Lycoperdon gemmatum var. perlatum (Pers.) Fr., Lycoperdon bonordenii Massee, and Lycoperdon perlatum var. bonordenii (Massee) Perdeck.
When this gastromycete fungus was first described in scientific literature, by Christian Hendrik Persoon in 1796, it was given the specific epithet perlatum, which simply means 'widespread'; it might equally have justified the alternative 'vulgaris', because it is one of the commonest of fungi, particularly in woodland habitats.
The genus name Lycoperdon literally means 'wolf's flatulence' and begs the question of who got close enough to a wolf to become an expert on the matter. For most of us, surely such an odor cannot be considered a particularly helpful diagnostic feature for identifying the Common Puffball, Lycoperdon perlatum.
Help Improve Ultimate Mushroom
If you find an error or you want to add more information about the mushroom please click here.