Tuesday 15 May 2007

#13 Calvatia cyathiformis

Calvatia cyathiformis, commonly called the Purple-spored Puffball, is from family Lycoperdaceae. It is a terrestrial puffball, relatively smooth and spherical or slightly flattened when young, often becoming pear-shaped or irregularly shaped as it matures.

It can be distinguished from other large Lycoperdales by its purple-brown spores. This puffball is reported to be edible when the gleba (spore bearing interior) is immature and white with the consistency of firm marshmallows.

The cracked exterior layer sheds to reveal spores

The skin of the fungus dries and darkens, and cracks with age, sometimes resembling a tesselated pattern (as shown in the previous image). The fleshy spore-bearing mass begins to turn purple-brown, breaks away and is distributed by wind and rain.

When the spores are completely dispersed, a soft leathery cup-shaped sterile base lightly rooted to the ground remains.

I have closely observed the growth and breakdown of a Purple-spored Puffball growing in a grazing paddock. These details can be veiwed at my Nature Blog.

The purple-brown spore mass is exposed

This is a common puffball in grazing paddocks and grassed areas in the Hunter Valley rural district in which I live. I am unaware, at this time, of its complete distribution.

This specimen has a stout base resembling a stalk

My sightings of Calvatia cyathiformis

[This will be updated with future sightings]

Hunter Valley, NSW - unimproved grazing paddocks: Nov, Dec, Jan.

Merriwindi State Conservation Area - (Baradine, NW NSW) - compacted sandy soil: Jun, Jul.

Macquarie Marshes district (NW NSW) - grazing paddock following rain: Jul.

Irregular shapes of Calvatia cyathisformis

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