Pear-shaped Puffball

Lycoperdon pyriforme

Copyright, Pamela Kaminski, Used with Permission

This mushroom is shaped like an upside-down pear. It is usually yellowish-brown and it can grow almost two inches wide and two inches tall.

Pear-shaped Puffballs grow on wood, old logs, stumps, and debris.

They are very common and they often grow together in clusters.

Like most mushrooms, the part you see is like the "flower" of a plant. Most of the fungus is a mass of thread-like parts inside the log or stump.

Copyright, John Denk

Copyright, Pamela Kaminski, Used with Permission

Mushrooms do not have seeds; instead they have spores. The Pear-shaped Puffball's spores are inside the mushroom. For them to get out and spread to grow new mushrooms, the puffball must be broken by an outside force.

Usually puffballs are broken by animals stepping on them, or by heavy rain.

When a puffball is broken, huge amounts of spores are released. It looks a lot like smoke.

When Pear-shaped Puffballs are young, before they are full of spores, fungus-eating animals will eat them. Eastern Box Turtles, Eastern Gray Squirrels, and Leopard Slugs are some animals that will eat these mushrooms.

When spores come out of a puffball, they look white at first, changing to a greenish-yellow color.

Pear-shaped Puffballs often have tiny, warty bumps on them.

Copyright, John Denk

Relationships in Nature:

Animals Using as Food Source

Animals Using as Shelter

Associations With Plants

OTHER

Eastern Box Turtle

Fungus Gnat

Red Fox D

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Horned Fungus Beetle

Raccoon D

Leopard Slug

White-tailed Deer D

Horned Fungus Beetle

Virginia Opossum D

Fungus Gnat

Human D

Eastern Cottontail D

Relationship to Humans:

Pear-shaped Puffballs are edible when they are young, before they are full of spores; however, not many people eat them. REMEMBER, never eat a mushroom unless an expert properly identifies it. There are many mushrooms that look a lot alike, but some are poisonous. This includes puffballs! If older puffballs are broken and many spores are inhaled, a person may suffer health problems. Like many mushrooms, Pear-shaped Puffballs are good decomposers. They help break down materials and nutrients into the soil so that plants can use them again.

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

KINGDOM
Fungi
DIVISION
Basidiomycota
CLASS
Gasteromycetes
ORDER
Lycoperdales
FAMILY
Lycoperdaceae
GENUS
Lycoperdon
SPECIES
Lycoperdon pyriforme

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