Bull. mens. Soc. linn. Lyon: 410. 1974.
Common Name: none
Synonym: Lycoperdon lloydianum (A.H. Smith) Jarvis comb. prov.
Misapplied name: Vascellum pratense (Pers.) Kreisel
Fruiting body 3.0-6.0 cm tall, 2.0-5.0 cm broad; shape variable: turbinate, obovoid, cylindrical with a slightly enlarged apex, sometimes laterally compressed and appearing fan-shaped, typically tapered towards the base, the latter often with characteristic wrinkles and folds; apex rounded to truncate; exoperidium consisting of a dense covering of evanescent, whitish to cream-colored, short spines and granules, less conspicuously ornamented towards the base; endoperidium thin, smooth to slightly roughened, white becoming cream to ochraceous-brown, grey-brown to medium-brown in senescent specimens; spores dispersed via a gradually enlarging apical tear; sterile base prominent, a subgleba occupying up to half of the fruiting body, composed of relatively large, whitish cells becoming yellowish to yellowish-olive, finally brown to purple-brown; subgleba separated from the spore case by a thin membrane, i.e. a diaphragm; gleba white, soft, becoming yellowish-olive, in age olive-brown, powdery; odor and taste mild when young; capillitium sparse, located mostly near the endoperidium; paracapillitium common.
Vascellum pratense, a European species, is morphologically very similar and may be conspecific. Alexander Smith elucidated some subtle differences in the protologue, but molecular studies are needed to resolve this question.
Spores 3-3.5 µm, round, with a minute pedicel, finely warted in KOH, appearing spinulose in cotton blue, moderately thick-walled, with a single oil droplet.
Solitary, gregarious to clustered in grassy areas; fruiting during the summer months in watered areas and after the fall rains.
Edible when white and immature, but of little value.
Vascellum lloydianum is one of several modest-sized puffballs found in lawns and playing fields. Its distinguishing characteristics include a prominent sterile base and spore case separated by a thin membrane (best seen by longitudinally sectioning the fruiting body), an exoperidium of pallid, evanescent spines and granules, and a thin endoperidium that changes from whitish to ochraceous, to brown. In old, dried specimens, the spore case may disintegrate leaving only a sterile cup-like base. Two other puffballs encountered in grass include Bovista plumbea and Bovista aestivalis. These can be told at a glance by a more or less round shape, relatively smooth surface, and lack of a sterile base.
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Smith, A.H. (1974). The genus Vascellum (Lycoperdaceae) in the United States. Bulletin de la Société Linnéenne de Lyon 43: 407-419. (Protologue)