Lycoperdon nigrescens: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Lycoperdon nigrescens Mushroom
Lycoperdon nigrescens (syn. Lycoperdon foetida) is a brown to dark brown mushroom with a strong smell. It differs from other puffballs in having tiny spikes on the surface which are tipped with fine hooks. The spines may eventually fall off leaving a net-like pattern on the surface.
This mushroom is widespread and occurs in summer and fall in conifer and hardwood forests as well as alpine habitats. The fruitbodies are somewhat pear-shaped with a distinct stipe and fine strands attached to the base. It is one of the darker colored species with light to dark brown pyramid-like spines that break away leaving a reticulate pattern on the exposed surface of the peridium. Between the spines, the surface is smooth and brownish to blackish brown.
Other names: Dusky Puffball.
Lycoperdon nigrescens Identification
2 to 4cm across, and 2 to 3.5cm tall; pear-shaped; the surface background initially pale brown turning mid to dark brown, covered in dark-brown spines 1 to 2mm long; spines fall off at maturity leaving a mottled, smooth surface; an apical pore opens, through which spores are released when either raindrops hit the mature puffball or a breeze blows across the pore hole. Stems are 1 to 2cm tall and typically 1.5cm in diameter; color as the fertile head but with shorter spines.
The aged fruitbody on the left has lost its spines and turned very dark. The peridium has fractured at the apex, allowing wind and rain to disperse the spores.
Spherical, weakly warted, 4.5-5µm in diameter.
White and firm at first, turning yellowish-brown and eventually dark brown and powdery.
Odor and Taste
Gives off a faint but rather unpleasant gassy smell when the flesh is cut.
Habitat & Ecological Role
Mainly found under conifers in woodlands but also in the grass on heathland.
Lycoperdon nigrescens Look-Alikes
Is paler and covered in warts rather than spines.
Has a very short stem and is covered in buff spines in groups of three.
Lycoperdon nigrescens Taxonomy & Etymology
Early in 1794 this species was described in scientific literature by Swedish botanist Göran Wahlenbergn (1780 - 1851) under its present scientific name; however, many authorities report that the basionym dates from Christiaan Hendrik Persoon's publication of 1794, ratified in his Synopsis Methodicae Fungorum of 1801.
Lycoperdon nigrescens has several synonyms including Lycoperdon perlatum var. nigrescens (Pers.) Pers., Lycoperdon perlatum ß nigrescens (Pers.) Pers., and Lycoperdon foetidum Bonord.
The specific epithet nigrescens means blackening while the genus name Lycoperdon means 'wolf's flatulence' and begs the question of who was foolhardy enough to get close enough to a wolf to become an expert on the matter.
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