Synopsis Methodica Fungorum 1: 150. 1801.
Common Name: none
Fruiting body 2.5-6.0 (8.0) cm tall, 2.5-5.0 (7.0) cm broad, pyriform to turbinate, with a well developed pseudostipe, pleated at the base, attached to the substrate with thin rhizoids; exoperidium cream to pale-buff, maturing tan, greyish-brown to medium-brown, covered with a mixture of granules and short spines, the latter solitary or grouped with fused tips; exoperdium persistent overlying a papery, buff to pale-tan endoperidum; gleba white, becoming yellowish-green, maturing dark-brown, elastic; subgleba alveolate, dark olive-brown with lilac tints, taking up approximately half of the fruiting body; sporocarp dehiscing via a late-forming apical pore; odor and taste untried.
Spores 4.0-5.0 µm including ornamentation, round to subglobose, distinctly warted with a central oil droplet; pedicel nub-like, < 0.5 µm in length, sterigmal remnants common in mounts; capillitial pores abundant, relatively small, round to oval; spores medium-brown in deposit.
Solitary or in small groups along trails and open areas in hardwood-evergreen woods; coastal to low and mid-elevations of the Sierra Nevada; fruiting from late fall to mid-winter; occasional.
Unknown; presumably edible like most puffballs when immature and the gleba still white.
Lycoperdon molle is a small to medium-sized, pear-shaped puffball recognized in age by a greyish-brownish to brown exoperidium composed of fine granules and short, often grouped spines. Microscopically it is distinguished by distinctly warted spores, the ornamentation clearly visible at 400X, and the presence of sterigmal fragments in mounts. Lycoperdon molle is sometimes confused with L. perlatum, L. (Morganella) pyriforme, and L. umbrinum. The most common of the three, Lycoperdon perlatum, differs in an exoperidum composed of conical-shaped, non-convergent spines of two lengths. When shed, the larger spines leave characteristic round scars on the underlying endoperidium, a useful fieldmark. A second species, Lycoperdon pyriforme, is unusual among puffballs in having a preference for lignicolous substrates. Identifying characters include a brownish granular, not spinulose exoperidum, a dense white subgleba, stringy white rhizomorphs at the base of the pseudostipe, and a tendency to fruit in large clusters. Also similar is Lycoperdon umbrinum. In California, Lycoperdon umbrinum is a blackish puffball found in mixed hardwood-conifer woods. It can be differentiated by a finer-textured, darker-colored exoperdium which is discontinuous at maturity, i.e. interspersed between the minute, blackish spines, a cream-yellow to brassy-colored endoperidium can be seen with a hand lens.
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