Lycoperdon perlatum (common puffball)
A group of Lycoperdon perlatum (Photo: Paul Cannon)
Lycoperdon perlatum Pers.
common puffball, devil’s snuffbox, gem-studded puffball
Not yet evaluated according to IUCN Red List criteria. Not considered to be of conservation concern.
On soil or decayed wood, generally in deciduous woodland, occasionally on wood-chip mulch.
Culinary and medicinal.
Can be confused with toxic fungus species. Fruitbodies can accumulate lead and mercury. Inhalation of spores of this and other puffballs can cause a lung disease known as lycoperdonosis.
About this species
Lycoperdon perlatum is one of the characteristic autumn fungi, fruiting mainly from September to November, and found in many kinds of woodlands and occasionally in grassy places. Fruitbodies occur singly or more often in clusters, on soil and amongst leaf litter. Like other puffballs it is a saprotroph, feeding on humus and decaying organic matter. It produces spores in the billions, puffed out at maturity through a small but distinct apical pore. Fruitbodies are edible when young, and as with many fungi, are important to insects, being utilised by some species for shelter and for breeding. The rare beetle Lycoperdina bovistae, for example, occurs in the common puffball and in various other puffball species, as do various flies of the families Chloropidae, Mycetophilidae and Phoridae.