Wild Guide

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From Missouri Conservationist: September 2017

Pear-Shaped Puffball (Lycoperdon pyriforme)

Have your mushroom and eat it, too, when you find a pear-shaped puffball. This small, round mushroom grows in clusters on decaying wood. They are pure white on the inside and yellow to brown on the outside with tiny warts on the surface. Puffballs are edible while young and fresh. Peel off the outer skin, then batter and fry them, or sauté them in olive oil for a mycological treat.
—Elanor C. Hasenbeck


Excellent edible mushroom when young and fresh. Cut open each puffball from top to bottom to confirm your identification. When eating a wild mushroom for the first time, it’s a good idea to sample a small amount first, since some people are allergic to certain fungi.


½–1½ inches wide, ½–1¾ inches tall



Life Cycle

Puffballs spend most of the year as a network of fungal cells called mycelium, which penetrate into dead wood, digesting and decaying it. When ready to reproduce, the puffball develops above ground. The fruiting body of a puffball contains a spore sac. When young, the spore sac is solid inside, but as it matures it becomes a mass of powdery spores. The spores puff out from a pore that forms at the top of the sac.

Ecosystem Connections

Puffballs are one of the many fungi species that live on decaying wood. Decomposers like puffballs play an important role in breaking down wood and returning nutrients to the soil.

Did You Know?

The pear-shaped puffball’s genus name, Lycoperdon, literally translates to “wolf fart,” from the Greek “lyco” meaning “wolf” and “perdon” meaning “break wind.”

This Issue's Staff

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld

Associate Editor - Bonnie Chasteen

Staff Writer - Larry Archer
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek

Creative Director - Stephanie Thurber

Art Director - Cliff White

Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter

Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner

Circulation - Laura Scheuler