Scleroderma citrinum Pers.
Scleroderma aurantium (Vaill.)
Scleroderma vulgare Horn.
Earthball, tough-skinned puffball, pigskin poison puffball, common earthball
Earthballs have recently been discovered to be relatives of boletes, a large group of mushrooms whose cap undersides resemble foam rubber, filled underneath with hollow spore-filled tubes. The name earthball is preferred by some to distinguish these from similar-appearing edible puffballs, but the term puffballs applies to both. They prefer well-drained, sandy soil.
Identification: Fruiting bodies are ¾-4" (2-10 cm) across. They are round or flattened, with a scaly, hard outer rind. They don’t sit on a stalk, but are attached instead by a whitish sheet of mycelium. The fruiting body is white at first, becoming cream-colored or yellow and brownish or greenish at time goes on. Coarse, irregularly shaped scales appear as well. When you cut one in half, it is filled with a spore mass that is white. It quickly begins to darken, becoming dark purple to purple-black, frm the center outwards. When the fruits mature, the skin ruptures, leaving a large opening that looks as if it exploded. Spores are distributed by wind and rain. The empty cases persist for long periods, even all winter.
Edibility: Mildly poisonous. Causes gastrointestinal distress, and sometimes lacrimation, rhinitis, and conjuctivitis.
Similar species: Earthballs are similar in appearance to puffballs (Lycoperdon), but puffballs have a single opening in the top, through which spores are released. Earthballs, by contrast, just rupture, leaving a ragged opening. Earthballs have a tough outer rind, while puffballs are spongy. Lycoperdon perlatum is club-shaped, and has a small stipe.
Scleroderma citrinum on mushroomexpert.com
Scleroderma citrinum on www.first-nature.com
Scleroderma citrinum description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.