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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!

09 April, 2016

Lycoperdon pyriforme: the stump puffball

As the leaves turn to the colours of autumn, on the woodland floor fungi begin to burst from the soil and leaf litter. At the forefront of this emergence is the stump puffball (Lycoperdon pyriforme). In broad-leaved woodland they can be found on dead tree stumps but, more often, seemingly growing from the soil but actually there will be a piece of wood buried that they are growing on.
This very common autumn species is the only British puffball that grows on wood. When they first emerge these puffballs can have a scaly appearance. but as they age and dry out they turn paler and lose the scales.  The ball is full of spores and when raindrops land on them the impact causes puffs of spores to be emitted from a hole on top of the ball, a bit like a volcano blowing ash. As the fruiting body ages further so the wind will cause spores to distribute too.
So, if you see a puff ball, don't stamp on it - let it do its job naturally!
Lycoperdon pyriforme: the stump puffball