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Common Earthball - Scleroderma citrinum

Common Earthball - Scleroderma citrinum

Main features

  • Fruitbody has no cap, stem or gills

  • Found near deciduous trees

  • Can reach 10cm across and 6cm tal

  • Off-white to buff coloured skin to start, browning or yellowing with age

  • Skin covered in dark coloured scales that get larger and more distorted with age

  • Shaped like a potato

  • Smell is or petroleum gas or cooking gas

  • Flesh is dark purple-black, but is off-white in young specimens

  • Skin leaves thick white band visible when fruit body is cut through

  • In older specimens, flesh turns to grey-brown spore mass

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Common Earthball - Scleroderma citrinum

Poisonous mushroom - novice identification

Other common names: Poison Pigskin, Pigskin Poison Earthball, Pigskin Poison Puffball


Scientific name meaning Scleroderma comes from the Greek Skleros, meaning hard, and Dermatos, meaning skin. Citrinum is from Modern Latin Citrinus, meaning lemon-coloured

Season - when will I find it? Summer to Winter

Habitat - where will I find it? Woodland and grassland near trees. It is a mycorrhizal fungus with deciduous trees

Description - what does it look like? 

Growth: The Common Earthball is a mycorrhizal fungus growing with deciduous trees, particularly Oak, Beech and Birch

Fruitbody: There is no discernible cap on the Common Earthball. Instead it is solid a general oval shaped, like a potato. The skin is tough and off-white to cream-coloured to start, covered with small darker scales. The skin may become a green-yellow as it ages, and the scales become more coarse. It is usually 5 - 10cm at its widest point, and 3 - 6cm tall

Flesh: Inside the flesh (gleba) is off white at first, but darkens and becomes a dark purple-brown or black. A distinct while band from the thick skin is visible.

Eventually, this dark centre develops into a grey-brown spore mass

Stem: None, connected to the ground by mycellial strings

Smell: Cooking or petroleum gas

Spore colour: Dark brown

Possible lookalikes Young Amanitas, which include deadly poisonous species, and young Stinkhorns could be mistaken for a Common Earthball. However, an embryonic mushroom would be visible upon slicing the fruit top to bottom. 
Small species of puffball could be easily confused with the Common Earthball. Edible puffballs would be pure white in the centre

Poisonous parts All parts of the Common Earthball are considered poisonous if consumed. In addition, inhalation of the spores is believed to cause respiratory disorders

Use in herbal medicine Thought to have some antibacterial and antiviral effects.

This mushroom is poisonous

If you are suffering from any ailment or need medical advice, please see your General Practitioner

Hazards This mushroom is poisonous

Importance to other species None known

Always stay safe when foraging. You need to be 100% sure of your identification, 100% sure that your foraged item is edible, and 100% sure that you are not allergic to it (it is good practice to always try a small amount of any new food you are consuming). If in doubt, leave it out!

Common Earthball - Scleroderma citrinum - cross section
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