Also known as the spiny or the spring puffball, Lycoperdon echinatum is a puffball mushroom that belongs to the genus Lycoperdon. This species has been found in North and Central America, Europe, and Africa.
The fruit body of the Lycoperdon echinatum is between 2 to 4 cm wide and 2 to 3.5 cm tall. It is pear shaped or spherical. The exterior surface is crowded with spines that are up to 0.6 cm long. It is said that American specimens have spines that are more slender than European ones. They are initially white and become dark brown in maturity, the spines are joined at the tips in groups of at least 3 to 4. These puffballs look like acorn caps of burr oak. The spines will slough off in age, and reveal a net-like or reticulated surface. The spores of the Lycoperdon echinatum is spherical with warts on the surface.
This puffball can either be found alone or in small groups. It grows in deciduous forests and grassy areas. It prefers beech woods. This species has been collected in the Rocky Mountains, Switzerland, eastern central Africa, Japan, Iran, the UK, Bulgaria, Finland, Costa Rica, China, Sweden, Spain, Slovakia, Germany, and Italy. In Finland’s Aland Islands, it is considered a threatened species.
Like other puffballs, Lycoperdon echinatum is edible when it young and while its gleba is white and firm. However, eating older Lycoperdon echinatum will cause a stomach upset. This species is mild and has no odour. However, some will say that older dried fruit bodies will smell like old ham. The taste of the Lycoperdon echinatum also varies. Some say that it has a texture of French toast, while others will say that it is well flavoured and tender when it is cooked. Some say that these puffballs should be sauteed with other mushrooms.