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Calostoma cinnabarinum

[ Basidiomycota > Boletales > Calostomataceae > Calostoma . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

Readers who are used to my admonitions against identifying mushrooms by comparing them to photographs may be surprised to hear me say that Calostoma cinnabarinum is probably an exception. Roger Phillips (1991/2005) calls Calostoma cinnabarinum the "Stalked Puffball-in-Aspic," which is a very apt description of this beautifully disgusting fungus.

DNA research (see Hughey et al., 2000 and Binder & Bresinsky, 2002) has located Calostoma cinnabarinum within the bolete order, along with some other rather strange bedfellows. More recently, Wilson and collaborators (2007) used isotopic, molecular, and morphological analysis to demonstrate that Calostoma cinnabarinum is mycorrhizal (like boletes!), rather than saprobic as had previously been assumed.

Calostoma lutescens has a yellow (rather than red) spore case, a longer stem, and globose, pitted spores; Calostoma ravenelii has a yellowish spore case and lacks the gelatinous covering.

"Calostoma cinnabarina" is a Latin error found in many sources.


Ecology: Mycorrhizal with oaks; growing alone or gregariously, often in moss beds or in low-lying, wet areas; spring through fall; eastern North America, Texas, and perhaps in the Southwest; apparently more common at higher elevations within its range.

Fruiting Body: At first appearing like a raised gelatinous egg or lump, with a translucent outer layer and a red inner layer; later appearing like a smooth or dusted pinkish to red balloon with a central pore, raised on a shaggy reddish to reddish brown stem that is surrounded by the deciduous, gelatinous material (often containing reddish chunks, as in the illustrations); finally appearing like a pinkish to reddish, perforated balloon about 2 cm across, atop a shaggy or even coarsely reticulate stem that is 2-4 cm long and 1-2 cm thick. The spore mass within the ball is white, becoming buff or yellowish at maturity.

Microscopic Features: Spores 14-28 x 6-11 µ; elliptical; finely reticulate.

REFERENCES: Corda, 1809. (Saccardo, 1888; Coker & Couch, 1928; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1981; Weber & Smith, 1985; Arora, 1986; Phillips, 1991/2005; Lincoff, 1992; Metzler & Metzler, 1992; Hughey et al., 2000; Roody, 2003; Miller & Miller, 2006; Wilson et al., 2007; Kuo & Methven, 2010.)

This site contains no information about the edibility or toxicity of mushrooms.


Calostoma cinnabarinum

Calostoma cinnabarinum

Calostoma cinnabarinum

Calostoma cinnabarinum

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Kuo, M. (2011, January). Calostoma cinnabarinum. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: