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Group of Fungi: Puffballs
Latin Name: Lycoperdon perlatum Pers.
Synonym(s): Lycoperdon gemmatum Batsch
Common Name: Gem-studded Puffball
Description: Pear-shaped or globose structure up to 1–2 1/2 in (2.5–6.5 cm) high and 1 1/4–3 in (3–7.5 cm) wide; outer surface at first white but then becoming brown, covered with small, round, cone-shaped spines that break off, developing a distinct opening at the top of; spore mass confined to the upper two-thirds of the fruiting body, white and fleshy in young fruiting bodies but becoming olive-brown and powdery as the spores mature; lower third of the fruiting body sterile and thus without spores; spores olive-brown in mass.
Biological Role: Decomposer of litter and humus; sometimes occurring on well-decayed wood debris.
Habitat: On the ground in both broadleaf and conifer forests; solitary to numerous, sometimes occurring in small clusters.
Geographical Distribution: Found throughout North America and often exceedingly common.
Comments: Lycopderdon perlatum is the puffball one is most likely to encounter in eastern North America. When the fruiting bodies are young and what is to become the spore mass is still white and fleshy (which can be determined by cutting a fruiting body in half), this fungus is considered a choice edible.