Bovista Plumbea: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Bovista Plumbea Mushroom
Bovista Pumbea is a small puffball mushroom commonly found in Western Europe and California, white when young and greyish in age. Easily confused with immature Bovista dermoxantha, it is attached to the substrate by a tuft of mycelium.
One of several whitish puffball fungi found in grasslands, Bovista plumbea looks rather like a miniature Giant Puffball Calvatia gigantea although in the early stages of development its outer skin (peridium) is rougher than that of its larger cousin.
This mushroom only edible when young.
Other names: Paltry Puffball, Rolling Puffball, Grey Puffball.
Bovista Plumbea Identification
Subspherical, smooth, 1.5 to 4cm across and stemless. The exoperidium (outer shell) is white at first, turning greyish and then splitting open to reveal a matt grey inner peridium.
The gray inner peridium eventually bursts open leaving a roughly circular apical hole.
Internally the gleba is white at first, turning olive-brown and finally brown as the spore mass matures. Capillitium threads up to 25µm thick, reddish-brown, thick-walled, dichotomously branched, without pores or septa; branches terminate in sharply tapered tips.
Grey Puffballs become detached from the ground and are often blown about by the wind. When fully mature the pores disperse via the ragged apical opening in the inner peridium.
Subglobose to broadly ellipsoidal, with very finely warted surfaces; 4.5-6.5 x 4-5.5µm. The remnant of sterigma attached to spore is cylindrical, tapered at the free end, and typically 10µm long creating a tadpole-like overall appearance.
Bovista Plumbea Look-Alikes
Is covered in warts rather than spines.
Occurs on stumps and buried wood.
Has a surface covered initially in woolly patches.
Bovista Plumbea Taxonomy & Etymology
This small grassland fungus was first described in scientific literature by Christiaan Hendrik Persoon in 1796, when it was given the binomial name Bovista plumbea, which still remains its accepted scientific name today.
Synonyms of Bovista plumbea include Lycoperdon bovista Sowerby, Lycoperdon plumbeum Vittad., and Bovista ovalispora Cooke & Massee.
Bovista plumbea is the type species of the genus Bovista, which contains about 40 known species.
The generic name Bovista comes from the old German vohenvist - vohe meaning a fox and vīst an emission of gas from the colon (okay, so that means fox-flatulence, to put it politely) - a reference to the smell of the spore dust releases from these puffballs. Much more straightforward is the specific epithet plumbea, which translates to 'leaden' and refers to the greyish color of the inner peridium of these puffballs.
One of the common names that have been applied to this species is Rolling Puffball, because once it becomes detached from the soil the fruitbody rolls along in close-cropped meadows, blown by the slightest breeze.
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