Stalked Puffball
Calostoma lutescens

Photo courtesy Tom McMillan, Escambia County, Al., 1/15/2015

Calostoma is most prevalent in moist temperate areas, where it fruits in the winter or during cooler periods. It has a thin gelatinous layer and a predominately yellow middle layer, or mesoperidium (layer that encloses a mass of spores), with the red color confined to the peristome (feature that surrounds the opening). It also ossesses a well-defined collar at the base of the spore case, a longer stipe, and globose, pitted spores. Related puffball, C. ravenelii, is not gelatinous, but has warts adorning the spore case, and is smaller in size. It also has a reddish peristome but is otherwise clay-colored. Unlike C. lutescens, the related fungi spores of C. ravenelii cannot be distinguished from those of C. cinnabarinum except through the use of a microscope.

More representatives of the genus are present in Asia, where at least nine species have been recorded from mainland China, some of which also overlap. Many of these species can be readily distinguished by macroscopic features, i.e., C. japonicum is pinkish orange and lacks a gelatinous outer layer, while both C. jiangii and C. junghuhnii are brown. Most, however, require microscopic study of spore shape and ornamentation for identification.

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