The Families of Mushrooms and Toadstools Represented in the British Isles


L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


‘Earth Stars’, ‘Artillery Fungi’.

Morphology. The fruit-bodies producing basidia and basidiospores; solitary; angiocarpic; star-like in appearance, with a central puff-ball surrounded by arms representing symmetrical splitting and outward peeling off of its outer coat (i.e., the gasterocarp opening via stellate rays of the peridium; the gleba powdery); tiny (in Sphaerobolus), or small to large (in Geastrum); 2–10 cm across (or more in Geastrum, when opened?), or 0.1–0.4 cm across (in Sphaerobolus); about 0.1–0.4 cm high (Sphaerobolus), or 2–10 cm high (Geastrum); brightly pigmented, or not brightly pigmented; orange to yellow (in Sphaerobolus), or light brown, or dark brown, or blackish. The gasterocarp with a columella (a pseudo-columella). Capilliteum present. Gleba at first pale. The peridium dehiscent (splitting radially); splitting radially to form stellate rays. The basidia ‘unmodified’; maturing simultaneously. The basidiospores small; statismosporic; ornamented (warted).

The hyphae with clamp connections. The hyphal walls lamellate, with a thin, electron-dense outer layer and a relatively thick, electron-transparent inner layer. The hyphae with dolipore septa.

Ecology. The fruit-bodies borne on the ground. Found in coniferous woodland, in broad-leaved woodland, in mixed woodland, and in places modified by human activities.

British representation. 21 species in Britain; Geastrum, Myriostoma, Sphaerobolus.

World representation. 62 species; genera 8.

Classification. Basidiomycota; Basidiomycetes; Agaricomycetidae; Phallales.

Comments. The exoperidium 3-layered, the gleba powdery.

Illustrations. • Geastrum (7 species) and Sphaerobolus stellatus (LH). • Geastrum fimbriatum (Berkeley). • Sphaerobolus stellatus (Berkeley).

To view the illustrations with captions giving names in current use, go to the interactive key. This also offers full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting or lacking specified attributes, distributions of character states within any set of taxa, source references, and other relevant material.

Cite this publication as: ‘Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2008 onwards. The families of mushrooms and toadstools represented in the British Isles. Version: 6th March 2015.’.