Pestle Puffball

Handkea excipuliformis

Appears in

By Roger Phillips

Published 2006

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Pestle Puffball Handkea excipuliformis (Scop.) Kreisel syn. Calvatia excipuliformis (Scop.) Perdeck (illustrated 25% life size) Fruit body 8–20cm high, pestle-shaped, head 3–12cm across; pale buff at first then brownish; outer surface of small spines or warts soon disappears, exposing the yellowish, papery inner wall, of which the upper portion breaks away to expose the spores. Gleba purplish-brown at maturity; sterile base occupying entire stem, sponge-like, brownish. Spores 3.5–5.5¼ in diameter, globose, warted; olive-brown. Habitat on waste ground, heath, pasture, and in woodland; late summer to autumn, but sterile stalk and empty cup-like base of head may persist for many months. Common. Edible when young. Note these are unusually short-stemmed specimens; the young one (bottom right) is the most typically shaped.