Mosaic Puffball

(Bovistella utriformis)

Conservation Status
Mosaic Puffball
Photo by Dan W. Andree
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNR - Unranked


not listed


Mosaic Puffball is a large, common, and very widespread puffball. It is the second largest puffball in Minnesota. It occurs worldwide in the temperate zones of both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. It occurs across North America but is mostly absent from the Great Plains. It is most common in the east, occasional in Minnesota. It is found from July to October in fields, meadows, pastures, shrubby areas, open woodlands, and woodland edges. It grows on the ground alone, scattered, or in groups. It obtains its nutrients from decaying organic matter (saprobic).

When it first appears, the fruiting body is globe-shaped, white to cream-colored, and 2 to 4¾ (6 to 12 cm) in diameter. The outer surface is densely covered with soft, fine, woolly hairs. As the puffball matures, it expands, it changes color, it develops a stem-like base, and the outer surface breaks up into a mosaic pattern of scaly, polygonal patches. This is the feature that gives the puffball its common name. Mature fruiting bodies are dull brown, pear-shaped, top-shaped, or pestle-shaped, 4 to 10 (10 to 25 cm) in height, and 2 to 10 (5 to 25 cm) in diameter. The upper part is often flat-topped and loaf shaped. Eventually, the upper part disintegrates from the center outward, forming a crater-like opening, and exposing the inner spore-bearing mass (gleba).

The gleba is white, soft, and cheesy at first. It soon turns yellowish to olive, then finally olive brown or dark brown and powdery. It is edible only when it is pure white throughout.

The upper part tapers gradually to the base. The base is very large and prominent, contributing up to one-half of the fruiting body’s total height. It persists long after the upper part has completely disintegrated and the spores have dispersed. The purplish-brown, cup-like, persistent base has fooled mycologists (and this writer) into believing it was a unique species.


Similar Species

Habitat and Hosts

Fields, meadows, pastures, open woodlands, and woodland edges




July to October


Distribution Map



4, 24, 26, 29, 30, 77.




Common in the east, occasional in Minnesota

  Kingdom Fungi (fungi)  
  Subkingdom Dikarya  
  Phylum Basidiomycota (club fungi)  
  Subphylum Agaricomycotina (jelly fungi, yeasts, and mushrooms)  
  Class Agaricomycetes (mushrooms, bracket fungi, puffballs, and allies)  
  Subclass Agaricomycetidae  
  Order Agaricales (common gilled mushrooms and allies)  
  Suborder Suborder Agaricineae  
  Family Lycoperdaceae (puffballs)  



The family Lycoperdaceae was formerly placed in the order Lycoperdales. Recent molecular phylogenetic studies resulted in a resturcturing of fungal taxonomy. Genera formerly in the families Tulostomataceae, Battarreaceae, Lycoperdaceae, and Mycenastraceae have been moved to Agaricaceae. The move has been universally accepted.

This species was formerly classified as Lycoperdon utriforme, and that genus was formerly placed in the family Lycoperdaceae. Recent phylogenetic analysis showed that family to be a subgroup within the family Agaricaceae. The move has not been universally accepted. Index Fungorum, MycoBank, Catalog of Life, and NCBI all include Lycoperdon in the family Lycoperdaceae.

This species was originally classified as Lycoperdon utriforme in 1791. It has been described several times under different names, and has been transferred by mycologists a few times into other genera. Over the years it has gone by many names under several genera. A recent morphological and molecular study (V. Demoulin and Y. Rebriev, 2017) sought to clarify the correct placement. It determined that small morphological differences justify the transfer of Lycoperdon utriforme to the new genus Bovistella. The transfer has been widely but not universally accepted. Mosaic Puffball is currently referred to by various sources as Lycoperdon utriforme, Calvatia caelata, Calvatia utriformis, Handkea utriformis, and Bovistella utriformis.




Bovista utriformis

Calvatia caelata

Calvatia utriformis

Handkea utriformis

Lycoperdon bovista

Lycoperdon caelatum

Lycoperdon utriforme

Utraria utriformis


Common Names


Checkered Puffball

Mosaic Puffball









The inner spore-bearing mass of puffballs, earthstars, and stinkhorns. The term is also used to refer to the spore-bearing slime covering the head of a stinkhorn.



A term often used for saprotrophic fungi. Referring to fungi that obtain their nutrients from decayed organic matter.





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Dan W. Andree


Large Whitish Fungi...

It didn’t have much of a stem. Maybe it’s one of those Puffball mushrooms. It was maybe 6-8 inches across. Never seen one before on a prairie. 7-6-23 Norman Co. MN.

  Mosaic Puffball  

Mosaic Puffball...

Here is another one … I was moving the grasses out of the way to show it better in this image.

  Mosaic Puffball  





Mosaic Puffball (Bovistella utriformis)
Wye Fungi
  Mosaic Puffball (Bovistella utriformis)  

Back to Puffballs




Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Nature's Mosaic - Puffball

Jul 6, 2016

As part of 30 Days Wild by the Wildlife Trust, I'll be looking for one wild creature for each of the days of June and sharing it with you guys.

As we approach the end of the series, we meet our first fungi - the bizarre Mosaic Puffball!

Nature Talks and Walks is a mobile education service that offices wildlife workshops to schools, university, groups and as an adult speaker.

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  Lycoperdon utriforme, mosaic puffball, stomach fungi, Calvatia utriformis
Nature and consciousness

May 14, 2019

I go through the forests, mountains, hills, fields, and waters to understand the living world and to create a living mind.

Lycoperdon utriforme, mosaic puffball, stomach fungi, Calvatia utriformis




Visitor Sightings

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  Dan W. Andree

Location: Norman Co., Mn.

It didn’t have much of a stem. Maybe it’s one of those Puffball mushrooms. It was maybe 6-8 inches across. Never seen one before on a prairie. 7-6-23 Norman Co. MN.

Mosaic Puffball  






Created: 7/20/2023

Last Updated:

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