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

Scleroderma bovista (Potato Earthball)

Kingdom: Fungi
Division: Basidiomycota
Class: Agaricomycetes
Order: Boletales
Family: Sclerodermataceae
Genus: Scleroderma
Species: S. bovista
Binomial name: Scleroderma bovista
Synonyms: Scleroderma verrucosum var. bovista, Scleroderma verrucosum subsp. Bovista, Phlyctospora fusca, Scleroderma texense
Common names: Potato Earthball

Scleroderma bovista is a cosmopolitan, terrestrial, mycorrhizal mushroom. It can be found scattered throughout New Zealand. It can be found growing alone, scattered, or gregariously in open areas; usually in grass but sometimes in mulched areas.
Scleroderma bovista’s sporocarp is globose or tuberiforme in shape and 2-5 cm across. Its peridium (outer skin) is firm dry and smooth when young but developing cracks when mature. This skin is about 1 mm thick. The sporocarp is a pale orange-yellow when young, turning a reddish brown on maturity. If a drop of KOH (Potassium hydroxide) is placed on the surface it should yield a red reaction. The peridium covers a black to purplish black, dry, spongy mass called the gleba. The gleba is a solid mass of spores, generated within an enclosed area within the sporocarp. The continuous maturity of the sporogenous cells leave the spores behind as a powdery mass that can be easily blown away through cracks in the peridium. 


A photo of a potato earthball cut open showing the dark gleba that contains the spores.

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