Described from a collection made in Sequoia National Park (Zeller 1947). Based on ITS sequences, (Jarvis 2014) it appears that this species belongs in the genus Lycoperdon. Additional gene sequences should be studies to confirm these findings. It was also placed in the genus Handkea by Kreisel (1989).
The species can be tough to distinguish from other species of puffballs; as it can only be recognized by a combination of mostly microscopic characters.
Calvatia lloydii is a rarely encountered puffball which grows in the dry coniferous forests of the western North American mountains in habitats strongly threatened by wild fires and drought. Currently known from twelve sites in California, as well as two in Oregon and two in Idaho. Only a single new collection location has been discovered in California since 1976 (Siegel et al. 2019, mycoportal.org)
Occurring in high elevation forests in the Sierra Nevada and San Bernardino Mountains, with a single site in the Cascade Range in California, USA, two sites in southern Oregon, and reported from two sites in Idaho (MyCoPortal 2020, Jarvis 2014). Most California sites are close to each other in Sequoia National Park.
So far, known from a very limited number of high altitude sites: two in Idaho, two in Oregon, and 12 locations scattered in the mountains of California, with five sites in Sequoia National Park, and two in the San Bernardino Mountains (Siegel et al. 2019, Jarvis 2014).
Rarely collected (see mycoportal.org), with big intervals between collections, despite the fact that the high-altitude forests of the mountains are frequently visited by mycologists over the years; the species has never been found in the Yuba Pass area, but for the last 30 years every year a mycology class has been held there in the first week of June.
Little is known about the habitat associations of this species, and how it has adversely changed, but it is suggestive that it has been collected only once since 1976 in California. A concerted effort to relocate this species at some of the historic sites was attempted in 2016 and 2017, but it wasn’t found during those visits.
Population Trend: Uncertain
Saprotrophic (living from dead plant material), growing in duff in high altitude dry conifer forests, 6000-8000 ft asl, with Abies, and Pinus ponderosa, and occasionally Quercus kelloggii. Fruiting from May to October (Zeller 1947; collection data from mycoportal.org), after the snow melt and after summer thunder and rain storms.
Habitat destruction because of forest fires is the main threat. As a result of the droughts in California (2012-2015) and changing weather patterns due to climate change, many forest fires have burned in the western states; these fires are more intense, and cover wide areas, due to the practice of forest fire suppression during the last 100+ years.
This species should be added to the US Forest Service Sensitive Species list, and populations manged when discovered.
Surveys for this species, especially in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains. Attempts should be made to relocate this species in Sequoia National Park, where a majority of the California collections (including the Type) were made in the 1940’s, and not collected there since.
Jarvis, S.S. 2014. The Lycoperdaceae of California. Master’s thesis, San Francisco State University.
Kreisel, H. 1989. Studies in the Calvatia complex (Basidiomycetes). Nova Hedwigia. 48: 281–296.
MyCoPortal. 2020. Mycology Collections Portal. Available at: http://mycoportal.org
Siegel, N., Vellinga, E.C., Schwarz, C., Castellano, M.A. and Ikeda, D. 2019. A Field Guide to the Rare Fungi of California’s National Forests. Bookmobile: Minneapolis, MN. 313 p.
Zeller, S.M. 1947. More notes on Gasteromycetes. Mycologia 39(3): 282–312.