It only seems logical that my next post is of yet another Earthball, just as a good comparison to my previous post on the Common Earthball.
The Scaly Earthball (Scleroderma verrucosum) is similar to Common Earthball (see post here), but more often confused with the Leopard Earthball (post and pics to come soon I hope). This is understandable as they both share the same thick long tapering ‘stem like’ protusion and elliptical shape with brown dotted scales on the surface.
The dark brown scales on the Scaly Earthball are often random-like in their pattern whereas the Leopard Earthball has a network-like collection of brown scales surrounded by a ring (which eventually where off). You have to have a good look. The Leopard Earthball is also typically smaller, usually only growing as big as 4cm across.
The outer wall (again like the Leopard Earthball) is very thin compared to the Common Earthball. Taking one in hand and gently squeezing it will easily deform the shape.
When mature, this outer skin will split irregularly near the top to release the powdery spores. Give it a little tap to see the puff cloud. Great fun, but don’t eat them!
QUICK ID TABLE: SCALY EARTHBALL Scleroderma verrucosum
2-8cm in diametre. Spherical / Sometimes flattish on top. Brown with darker scales. Outer wall thin. Opens irregularly near apex.
Uncharacteristically long & thick white ‘stem-like’ protusion at base.
HABITAT / SEASON
Woods, heaths and verges in rich sandy soil. Late summer to autumn. Common.
The PUFFBALLS/EARTHBALLS & ALLIES (Stomach fungi): Characteristics to look out for:
• Main fruting body is ball shaped, irregular or pedicel shaped. Broken or split at maturity to release spores