T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Geastrum velutinum (Velvet Earthstar)

Kingdom: Fungi
Subkingdom: Dikarya
Phylum: Basidiomycota
Subphylum: Agaricomycotina
Class: Agaricomycetes
Subclass: Phallomycetidae
Order: Geastrales
Family: Geastraceae
Genus: Geastrum
Species: Geastrum velutinum
Common name: Velvet Earthstar

Geastrum velutinum starts as a developing looking like a puffball. At maturity, the outer layer of the fruiting body splits into broad rays which turn outwards creating a star-like pattern on the ground, (Width 50mm).
The spores are contained inside a thin-skinned fruit-body (inner peridium) that is exposed when the body segments fold back. The spores are released through a small hole at the top when rain drops hit the fruit-body. The mouth is quite prominent, arising as a small cone at the apex of the inner peridium.
The dark-brown spores are released through this mouth.

Geastrum velutinum is found usually during autumn on forest litter. The specimen photographed below was growing on old pine bark.

Growing on forest litter

Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/