Fungalpedia – Note 70 Scleroderma


Scleroderma Pers.

Citation if using this entry: Bera et al. (2023) Basidiomycota. Mycosphere (in prep)


Index Fungorum, MycoBank, GenBank, Fig. 1

Scleroderma Pers. (Sclerodermataceae, Boletales) described by Persoon (1801) is an easily recognizable, common, and widespread gasteroid genus. The members of this genus produce the visible basidiocarps commonly known as “earthballs” among the grasses, leaf litter, or soil around or in forested areas (Jeffries 1999). Scleroderma typified by S. verrucosum (Bull.) Pers., has a typical round-shaped, leathery textured, and brownish-coloured basidiocarp with smooth or warted, outer wall or peridium. The peridium on maturity becomes quite dry and irregularly cracks to expose the underneath gleba. The basidiospores produced in peridioles disperse through these cracks as a powdery mass (Jeffries 1999). Since Guzman’s (1970) monographic study on the genus Scleroderma, the species of this genus can easily be identified based on the morphology of the basidiocarp and the ornamentation of the basidiospores (Jeffries 1999). The basidiospore ornamentation can be categorized into spiny, sub-reticulate, and reticulate (Guzman 1970Sims et al. 1995). However, the current identification of Scleroderma is based on the combined study of morphology and phylogeny based mostly on nrITS sequence data. 

The species of this genus have been shown to be both ectomycorrhizal and saprotrophic (Jeffries 1999). The ectomycorrhizal host plants of Scleroderma belong to the angiosperm families, Cistaceae, Dipterocarpaceae, Fagaceae, Juglandaceae, Myrtaceae, Mimosaceae, and Pinaceae (Guzman 1970Kumla et al. 2013Ge et al. 2017Marx et al. 1977Phosri et al. 2009Wilson et al. 2012Wu et al. 2023). For instance, Scleroderma citrinum Pers. (syn. S. aurantium Viall.: Pers., S. vulgare Horn.) forms a typical ectomycorrhizal association but also occurred as a saprotroph on rotting wood (Jeffries 1999). As per Chen et al. (2007), various species of Scleroderma have been used as inoculation symbionts to promote and colonize the growth of tree seedlings. To date, edibility has not been confirmed for this genus. 

The distribution of Scleroderma is mostly pantropical. After the detailed study by Guzmán (1970), some of the significant taxonomic work on the genus have been carried out in countries of America, Africa, Europe, and Asia (Demoulin & Malençon 1970, Demoulin & Dring 19711975, Jeppson 1979, 1986, 1998Beaton & Weste 1982, Calonge 1982, 1998Kobayasi 1986, Rifai 1987, Coccia et al. 1990Sims et al. 199519971999Grgurinovic 1998Guzmán & Ovrebo 2000Kasuya et al. 2002Poumart 2003Guzmán et al. 2004Watling & Sims 2004Calonge et al. 19972005Gurgel et al. 2008Guzmán & Ramírez-Guillén 2010Guzmán & Piepenbring 2011Alfredo et al. 2012Nouhra et al. 2012Raut et al. 2020Wu et al. 2023). These expeditions lead to the total number of records of the genus Scleroderma documented to date being 199 as per the Index Fungorum online database (; accessed on 03.07.2023). However, as per Zhang et al. (2020) only 40 species were recognized. The current addition to the genus is four new species of Scleroderma, S. erubescens, S. separatum, S. squamulosum, and S. vinaceum described from the Yunnan province of China based on both the morphological observations and molecular data (nrITS sequence data) (Wu et al. 2023).

Type species: Scleroderma verrucosum (Bull.) Pers


Fig 1. Scleroderma hypogaeum (Guzmán 38484) a. Basidiomata b. Basidiospores. c. Basidia. Scale bars: b, c = 10 μm. Drawn from Guzman et al. 2013.




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Alfredo DS, Leite AG, Braga-Neto R, Cortez VG, Baseia IG 2012 – Scleroderma minutisporum, a new earthball from the Amazon rainforest. Mycosphere, 3(3), 294–299.

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Demoulin V, Dring DM 1971 – Two new species of Scleroderma from tropical Africa. Transactions of the British Mycological Society, 56(1), 163–165.

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Demoulin V, Malencon G 1970 – A new Mediterranean-South-Atlantic Scleroderma: Scleroderma meridionale Demoulin and Malencon, spec. nov. Soc. Mycol. Fr. Bull. Trimest.

Ge ZW, Brenneman T, Bonito G, Smith ME 2017 – Soil pH and mineral nutrients strongly influence truffles and other ectomycorrhizal fungi associated with commercial pecans (Carya illinoinensis). Plant Soil, 418, 493–505.

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Gurgel FE, Silva BDB, Baseia IG 2008 – New records of Scleroderma from Northeastern Brazil. Mycotaxon, 105, 399–405.

Guzmán G 1970 – Monografía del género Scleroderma Pers. emend. Fr. (Fungi-Basidiomycetes). Darwiniana, 16, 233–407.

Guzmán G, Ovrebo CL 2000 – New observations on sclerodermataceous fungi. Mycologia, 92(1), 174–179.

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Guzmán G, Ramírez-Guillén F, Miller Jr OK, Lodge DJ, Baroni TJ 2004 – Scleroderma stellatum versus Scleroderma bermudense: the status of Scleroderma echinatum and the first record of Veligaster nitidum from the Virgin Islands. Mycologia, 96(6), 1370–1379.

Guzmán G, Cortés-Pérez A, Guzmán-Dávalos L, Ramírez-Guillén F, del Refugio Sánchez-Jácome M 2013 – An emendation of Scleroderma, new records, and review of the known species in Mexico. Revista mexicana de biodiversidad, 84, S173–S191.

Jeffries P 1999 – Scleroderma. Ectomycorrhizal fungi key genera in profile, 187–200.

Jeppson M 1979 – Notes on ocurrence of Scleroderma areolatum and Scleroderma verrucosum in Sweden. Göteborgs Svampklubb Årsskrift, 39–44.

Jeppson M 1986 – Scleroderma cepa Pers. brief notes on its taxonomy, ecology and distribution. Windhalia, 16, 123–126.

Jeppson M 1998 – Scleroderma septentrionale, a new gasteromycete from North-European sand dunes. Karstenia, 38, 37–43.

Kasuya T, Guzmán G, Ramirez-Guillèn F, Kato T 2002 – Scleroderma laeve (Gasteromycetes, Sclerodermatales), new to Japan. Mycoscience, 43(6), 475–476.

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Kumla J, Suwannarach N, Bussaban B, Lumyong S 2013 – Scleroderma suthepense, a new ectomycorrhizal fungus from Thailand. Mycotaxon, 123, 1–7.

Marx DH, Bryan WC, Cordell CE 1977 – Survival and growth of pine seedlings with Pisolithus ectomycorrhizae after two years on reforestation sites in North Carolina and Florida. For. Sci., 23, 363–373.

Nouhra ER, Hernández Caffot ML, Pastor N, Crespo EM 2012 – The species of Scleroderma from Argentina, including a new species from the Nothofagus forest. Mycologia, 104(2), 488-495.

Persoon CH 1801 – Synopsis methodica fungorum: sistens enumeratione omnium huc usque detectarum specierum, cum brevibus descriptionibus nec non synonymis et observationibus selectis (Vol. 2). Apud Henricum Dieterich.

Phosri C, Martín MP, Watling R, Jeppson M, Sihanonth P 2009 – Molecular phylogeny and re-assessment of some Scleroderma spp. (Gasteromycetes). An. Jardín Botánico Madr., 66, 83–91.

Poumarat S 2003 – Clé des Gasteromycetes épigés d’Europe. Phallales: Geastraceae, Hysterangiaceae, Phallaceae.

Raut JK, Basukala O, Shrestha R, Poudel RC 2020 – Scleroderma nastii sp. nov., a gasteroid mushroom from Phulchoki hill, Nepal. Studies in Fungi, 5(1), 50–58.

Rifai MA 1987 – Malesian Scleroderma (Gasteromycetes). Transactions of the Mycological Society of Japan, 28(97).

Sims KP, Watling R, Jeffries P. 1995 – A revised key to the genus Scleroderma. Mycotaxon 51, 403–420.

Sims KP, Sen R, Watling R, Jeffries P 1999 – Species and population structures of Pisolithus and Scleroderma identified by combined phenotypic and genomic marker analysis. Mycological Research, 103(4), 449–458.

Sims K, Watling R, De La Cruz R, Jeffries P 1997 – Ectomycorrhizal fungi of the Philippines: a preliminary survey and notes on the geographic biodiversity of the Sclerodermatales. Biodiversity & Conservation, 6, 43–58.

Watling R, Sims K 2004 – Taxonomic and floristic notes on some larger Malaysian fungi. IV (Scleroderma). Fungi in forest ecosystems: systematics, diversity, and ecology, 93–96.

Wilson AW, Binder M, Hibbett DS 2012 – Diversity and evolution of ectomycorrhizal host associations in the Sclerodermatineae (Boletales, Basidiomycota). New Phytol., 194, 1079–1095.

Wu R, Zhou L, Qu H, Ge ZW 2023 – Updates on Scleroderma: Four New Species of Section Scleroderma from Southwestern China. Diversity, 15(6), 775.

Zhang YZ, Sun CY, Sun J, Zhang KP, Zhang HS, Guo X, Zhou YJ, Zheng DS, Li HJ 2020 – Scleroderma venenatum sp. nov., S. venenatum var. macrosporum var. nov. and S. suthepense new to China. Phytotaxa, 438, 107–118.


Entry by

Ishika Bera, Center of Excellence in Fungal Research, Mae Fah Luang University, Chiang Rai 57100, Thailand


(Edited by Kevin D Hyde)