More Earthballs – The Scaly Earthball

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.

earthball identificationThe 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!

Scaly Earthball Pictures

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.




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
• Interior of fruiting body full of gleba (spores); solid when young, as a powder at maturity.
• Often small or no visible stem.

12 replies
  1. Tina Kempster
    Tina Kempster says:

    Hi there

    Thank you for an interesting post. I wonder if anyone is picking edible mushrooms this year? I have tried several times this years but could not find anything.:(


    • J C Harris
      J C Harris says:

      Hi Tina. Things are just getting started for more edible species after a bit of a slow start in September. I have a backlog of some Milkcaps and Brittlegills to feature. I’ve a feeling October will be a good one…

  2. Dorrington66
    Dorrington66 says:

    Can anyone who lives in S Shropshire take us foraging. I have to miss the S.Wild Life TrusT. outing due to family commitments & wld like to learn to identify etc. Thankyou

  3. john
    john says:

    Why don’t you have some postings on edible fungi ?

    For example, yesterday, on the Kent-Surrey borders we found some young chanterelles, with every indication of plenty more on the way. Would not your readers find such information interesting and useful? They are not going to go out looking for scaly earthballs, at least I”m not, but they may go out looking for chanterelles !

    Maybe I am on the wrong part of your site, but I would be happy to see more comments on edible mushrooms, especially alerts from people seeing a species early on in its season.


    • J C Harris
      J C Harris says:

      I see where you’re coming from John and I understand everyone’s out there looking for the edible goodies. I tend to feature any and all fungi especially when they’re abundant at the time so people can get further info on them. My next few posts will be featuring some Milkcaps and Russulas which are edible and nice. If you look in the categories drop down menu (top right of the homepage under the main image(s)) you will see a category called ‘Good Eats’. All postings there list the nice and tasty mushrooms and fungi.


  4. thebigfatmushroomhunter.
    thebigfatmushroomhunter. says:

    Great article! These were a particular menace on one of my recent forages … if only the little buggers were edible! I like that you post about all your finds, whether they be edible/inedible species … After all, you need to know what not to eat as well as those you should!

    I have recently just started my own mushroom hunting blog, where I share stories of my outings, the fabulous fungi I find … and most importantly the recipes to rustle up a gd hearty meal at the end of it all!!

    Follow my blog @

    All the best,


    • J C Harris
      J C Harris says:

      Thanks for the feedback BFMH. It really is a shame you can’t eat them. Hey hoh!
      And good luck and enjoyment with your new blog, I know I enjoy mine. I’ll be popping back now and again to take a look.

      All the best

  5. Matt
    Matt says:

    Hi. I just started mushroom hunting this week in Derbyshire. Great fun it is too. I’ve already had two exciting encounters. One with a woman down a public lane that said she’s going to call the police on me and the park ranger at Elvaston castle saying I can’t walk and take photos in the park!

    • J C Harris
      J C Harris says:

      Glad you’re enjoying the mushroom hunting – And yes, it comes with all the weird looks and comments sometimes. I don’t know the bylaws concerning Elvaston Castle, but you do have the right to take pictures of landscape and architecture in public. I mean, just guess many people take pictures of Buckingham Palace!


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] This one was very small, but they can actually get surprisingly large. I saw one in a TV show that was about the size of a football! These are pure white and kind of spongy inside, and although very edible, they’re still pretty bland. Soon, we found the non-edible look-alike, the Earthball: […]

  2. […] This one was very small, but they can actually get surprisingly large. I saw one in a TV show that was about the size of a football! These are pure white and kind of spongy inside, and although very edible, they’re still pretty bland. Soon, we found the non-edible look-alike, the Earthball: […]

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