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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

06 February, 2016

Scleroderma citrinum: the common earth ball

In autumn the common earth ball (Scleroderma citrinum) is probably the most common species of fungus found on the Dorset heaths where the soil is mossy, peaty and sandy. At first glance many would mistake it for the familiar puff ball but, on closer inspection, the surface of the ball is much more scaly, indeed almost ridged. When fresh the appearance is quite light in colour but as it ages it turns a distinct yellow which is probably where its scientific name of 'citrinum' comes from, citrus coloured. .
The spherical dome does, indeed, recall a puff ball but the earth ball does not puff its spores out through a hole in the top when rain hits it, instead the common earth ball splits open when riple to release its spores.
It is not an edible fungus because it only has spores inside, very little flesh.
Scleroderma citrinum: the common earth ball