Habitat and distribution: The stump puffball (Lycoperdon pyriforme) grows commonly throughout the global temperate zone and less frequently in the tropics (EOL.org). it grows on rotting hardwoods and conifers, producing fruiting bodies from spring through fall (Kuo & Methven, 2014). I found this specimen on a fallen beech log in the Baker woodlot on the MSU campus.
Taxonomic placement: L. pyriforme (Basidiomycota, Agaricomycotina, Agaricales, Agaricaceae) (Mycobank.org) was first described by Schaeffer in 1774. Though the name L. pyriforme has remained the valid name, the species has several junior synonyms including Utraria pyriformis, Morganella pyriformis, and Scleroderma bresadolae (Mycobank.org).
Fruiting body: L. pyriforme often grows groups on rotting logs. Young puffballs begin as small light brown spheres with subtly rough surface. They
gradually grow into pear-shaped puffballs, no more than 5 cm high. The interior of the fruiting bodies remains solid and white until the brown spores mature and break through the outer surface. This species is also easily recognizable because it is attached to the substrate by conspicuous white rhizomorphs (Arora, 1976; Kuo & Methven, 2014).
Microscopic features: These puffballs were still quite young, and were not producing spores yet. When they mature, the spores of L. pyriforme are small (~4 x 4 µm), spherical or nearly so, with brown capillitial threads (Kuo & Methven 2014).
Ecology and relevance to society: L. pyriforme is an important member of the decomposing guild in forest ecosystems (Huss, 1996), and a popular edible species (Melake, 2013a; b)
Arora, D. 1976. Mushrooms Demystified: a comprehensive guide to the fleshy fungi. Ten Speed Press: Berkeley, CA.
EOL: Lycoperdon pyriforme Stump puffball. http://www.eol.org/pages/133781/maps. Accessed November 26, 2016.
Huss, M.J., 1996. Isozyme analysis of population structure and diversity in the puffball species Lycoperdon pyriforme. Mycologia 88(6): 977-985.
Kuo, M., and A.S. Methven. 2014. Mushrooms of the Midwest. University of Illinois Press: Urbana, Chicago, Springfield.
Lycoperdon pyriforme. Mycobank.org. Accessed November 26, 2016.
Melike, Y.A. 2013a. Characterization of a [beta]-glucosidase from an edible mushroom, Lycoperdon pyriforme. International journal of food properties. 16(7) 1565.
Melike, Y.A. 2013b. Characterization of an esterase activity in Lycoperdon pyriforme an edible mushroom. Journal of food biochemistry 37(2): 177-184.
Schaeffer, J.C. 1774. Fungorum qui in Bavaria et Palatinatu circa Ratisbonam nascuntur Icones. Regensburg.12.01.16