Lycoperdon pyriforme

Scientific name:  Lycoperdon pyriforme Schaeffer:Persoon
Derivation of name:  Lyco- means "wolf" and perdon
refers to flatulence. Lycoperdon means "wolf fart" perhaps
in reference to the manner in which these puffballs puff
their spores out through a central hole.Pyri- means "pear"
and form- means "shape" or "appearance." Pyriforme
refers to the pear shape of this puffball.
Synonyms:  Morganella pyriformis (Schaeffer:Persoon)
Kreisel & D. Kruger
Common name(s):  Pear-shaped puffball.
Phylum:   Basidiomycota
Order:   Agaricales
Family:  Agaricaceae
Occurrence on wood substrate:  Saprobic; scattered or in
dense clusters on decaying wood; July through November.    
Dimensions: Fruit bodies are 1.5-4.5 cm wide and 2-5 cm
Description:This puffball species is pear-shaped to nearly
globose and supported by a small sterile base attached to the
substrate by white mycelial strands (rhizomorphs). When
young this puffball is whitish and covered with tiny warts and
granules. With maturity the spore case (peridium) is yellow-
brown to reddish-brown and develops a pore-like mouth (the
ostiole) at the apex allowing spores to be "puffed out" when
the outer case is disturbed by raindrops or twigs striking it.
The spore producing internal tissue (gleba) is moist and white
at first, turning olive-brown and powdery when mature.
This species is edible only when the internal spore
tissue (gleba) is completely white and uniform in appearance.
Care must be taken not to confuse puffballs with young stages
of Amanita species which are enclosed by a universal veil.
A longitudinal section of a young Amanita will reveal some
tissue differentiation into gills. Gills never occur in puffballs.

More information at   
More information at

Figure 1. Clustered specimens of Lycoperdon pyriforme
on a standing dead tree. Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 2.  Dense clusters of Lycoperdon pyriforme on a
rotting log. Photo © Fred Habegger.

Figure 3. A closer view of young specimens of
Lycoperdon pyriforme. Photo © William Roody.

Figure 4. This detached piece of bark bearing a cluster of
pear-shaped puffballs was brought to the display tables at
a NEMF foray. The bark was placed on a stone wall for
the photograph. Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 5. A close-up of the surface of one of the young
puffballs in Figure 4. Field guides describe the surface of
young specimens as covered with minute warts, particles,
or granules. Compare this to young specimens of
Lycoperdon perlatum which are covered with conical
spines. Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 6. The peridium of a mature specimen. An ostiole
has developed at the top of the puffball. Photo © Gary

Figure 7. Puffballs growing on a stump. Ostioles are
developing on many of these. Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 8.  Some of the puffballs on the stump shown in
Figure 7 were partially dislodged from the wood. A useful
field identification character for this species is the white
rhizomorphs extending from the puffball bases to the woody
substrate. Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 9. These mature speciemens have developed pores
for release of the spores. The small stick was used to gently
nudge the puffball near it. See Figure 10 for the result.
Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 10. These are the puffballs of Figure 9 a moment after
the stick was used to compress the puffball near it. Can you
see the small cloud of spores released? Photo © Gary

Figure 11. Can you see this spore cloud? Photo © Pam

Figure 12. White rhizomorphs of Lycoperdon
are evident throughout the piece of well-rotted
wood broken away from a log bearing a number of very
immature puffballs. The young puffballs are highlighted
in Figure 13. Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 13. Close-up of the tall, cylindrical immature
specimens of pear-shaped puffball visible in Figure 12. It
was interesting to see the puffballs grow almost to mature
height before the fertile portion expanded - perhaps
reflective of the crowded growing conditions. Photo © Gary


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This page © 2008 by Gary Emberger, Messiah College