Fen bovist (Bovista paludosa)

GenusBovista (1)
SizeFruiting body diameter: 1 – 3 cm (2)
Fruiting body height: 1.5 – 6 cm (2)

Short-listed for inclusion in the Bern Convention by the European Council for Conservation of Fungi (ECCF), and included on the Red Lists of 13 European countries (3).

Bovista paludosa is a puffball fungus. The ball-shaped fruitbody encloses the spores and remains unopened (4). The puffball is initially snow-white and smooth but as it matures develops a papery wall through which the brown inner surface is visible (2).

WARNING: many species of fungus are poisonous or contain chemicals that can cause sickness. Never pick and eat any species of fungus that you cannot positively recognise or are unsure about. Some species are deadly poisonous and can cause death within a few hours if swallowed.

Although rare throughout its range, Bovista paludosa has a widespread distribution in boreal and sub-alpine regions of Europe. It is also known from the Himalayas and northern parts of North America (2).

This fungus is found in calcareous marshes, where it lives amongst moss (3).

Fungi are an enormous group of organisms that are so distinctive from both plants and animals that they are placed in their own kingdom. The main body of the fungus is composed of a multitude of microscopic threads (known as ‘hyphae’) which are located within the substrate (4). The fruiting body (such as the more familiar mushroom or toadstool) is produced to release spores and thus allows reproduction to occur. Fungi feed by absorbing nutrients from their surroundings.

The puffball fruiting bodies of Bovista paludosa are produced in late summer and autumn (2); brown spores are released in a large cloud as the puffball matures (4).

Bovista paludosa is threatened by the disturbance of its wetland habitat. The removal of peat, decreased mowing of fens and the drainage of wetlands all threaten the survival of this rare fungus (2).

The protection of wetland habitats, such as the prevention of drainage and of the invasion of trees, is an important step towards securing the future of this species. In addition, Bovista paludosa is a candidate species for listing in Appendix I of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, otherwise known as the Bern Convention (3) (5).

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

  1. National Biodiversity Network, Species Dictionary (July, 2003) http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nbn/
  2. European Council for Conservation of Fungi (ECCF) (2001) Datasheets of threatened mushrooms of Europe, candidates for listing in Appendix I of the Convention. Bern Convention Standing Committee. http://www.nature.coe.int/CP21/tpvs34e.htm
  3. The distribution, status and habitat requirement of the 33 fungal candidates for listing in Appendix I of the Bern Convention. (June 2003) http://www.artdata.slu.se/Bern_Fungi/Bern_Fungi.htm
  4. Pegler, D. & Spooner, B. (1992) The Mushroom Identifier. Apple Press, London
  5. Bern Convention (June, 2003) http://www.nature.coe.int/english/cadres/bern.htm