What You Should Know
Lycoperdon pulcherrimum is a type of puffball mushroom in the genus Lycoperdon. It is a spiny puffball that features especially long spines that measure 2–4 mm long or more, and are often joined at their tips. The fruit body is white to whitish, remaining so throughout its development. It is found in woods and urban areas near trees and is usually about the size of a golf ball or slightly larger.
It was first described scientifically in 1873 by Miles Joseph Berkeley and Moses Ashley Curtis. The fungus is found in the southern United States.
Other names: Beautiful Puffball.
Lycoperdon pulcherrimum Mushroom Identification
Saprobic; usually growing alone or scattered, in woods or urban settings, usually with trees nearby; summer and fall; originally described from Pennsylvania, but primarily distributed in the Great Plains states and the Midwest, though not infrequently reported from the southwest and the eastern United States.
Round, or shaped like an inverted pear; 2–6 cm wide; 2–5 cm high; dry; densely covered with soft, long spines 2–4 mm long, often united at their tips to form aggregations of twos, threes, and fours; white to whitish and remaining so throughout development; surface beneath spines bald and unmarked when spines fall away or are removed; skin 0.5–1 mm thick; interior flesh white and spongy at first, becoming yellowish and then olive, eventually turning into olive-brown spore dust except in the sterile base.
Spores 4.5–6 µm including ornamentation; globose; spiny, with spines about 1 µm long; often with a 1–2 µm; pedicel. Capillitial threads 3–7 µm wide; walls 0.5–1 µm thick; occasionally branched; smooth; no pores found; olive to olive-brown in KOH.
Lycoperdon pulcherrimum Look-Alikes
Is very similar, featuring long spines and persistent white colors, but it features smaller, marble-sized fruiting bodies and grows only in grassy areas or in woodchips; it also differs microscopically.
Is also similar but can be separated by the fact that its surface is pock-marked or even reticulate where spines have fallen off, while the surface of Lycoperdon pulcherrimum remains smooth.
Photo 1 - Author: Kristen Bobo (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic)