This article is about fungi commonly known as earth stars. For other uses, see Earth Star.
Geastrum triplex
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Fungi
Division: Basidiomycota
Class: Agaricomycetes
Subclass: Phallomycetidae
Order: Geastrales
K.Hosaka & Castellano (2007)[1]
Family: Geastraceae
Corda (1842)[2]
Type genus
Pers. (1801)



Sphaerobolaceae J.Schröter (1889)

The Geastrales are an order of gasterocarpic basidiomycetes (fungi) that relates to Cantharellales. The order contains the single family Geastraceae, commonly known as "earthstars", which older classifications had placed in Lycoperdales, or Phallales.[4][5]

About 64 species are classified in this family, divided among eight genera, including the Geastrum, Myriostoma and Sphaerobolus. The Sphaerobolus are known as "shotgun fungus" or "cannonball fungus". They colonize wood-based mulches and may throw black, sticky, spore-containing globs onto nearby surfaces.[6][7]

The fruit bodies of several earthstars are hygroscopic: in dry weather the "petals" will dry and curl up around the soft spore sac, protecting it. In this state, often the whole fungus becomes detached from the ground and may roll around as a tumbleweed does. When the weather dampens, the "petals" moisten and uncurl and some even curl backward lifting the spore sac up. This then allows rain or animal movement to hit the spore sac so it will puff out spores when enough moisture is present for them to germinate.


  1. Hosaka K, Bates ST, Beever RE, Castellano MA, Colgan W 3rd, Domínguez LS, Nouhra ER, Geml J, Giachini AJ, Kenney SR, Simpson NB, Spatafora JW, Trappe JM. (2006). "Molecular phylogenetics of the gomphoid-phalloid fungi with an establishment of the new subclass Phallomycetidae and two new orders". Mycologia. 98 (6): 949–959. doi:10.3852/mycologia.98.6.949. PMID 17486971.
  2. Corda ACJ. (1842). Icones fungorum hucusque cognitorum (in Latin). 5. Prague: J.G. Calve. pp. 1–92 (see p. 25).
  3. Kirk et al. (2008), p. 648.
  4. Kirk PM, Cannon PF, David JC, Stalpers JA. (2001). Ainsworth & Bisby's Dictionary of the Fungi (9th ed.). Oxon, UK: CABI Bioscience. p. 205. ISBN 0-85199-377-X.
  5. Kirk PM, Cannon PF, Minter DW, Stalpers JA. (2008). Dictionary of the Fungi (10th ed.). Wallingford, UK: CAB International. p. 274. ISBN 9780851998268.
  6. Lehman R (1985). "Black spots on houses—an insect or disease problem?". Penn Dept Agric Bur Pl Ind, Reg Hort. 11: 15–16.
  7. Brantley EA, Davis DD, Kuhns L (2001). "Biological control of the artillery fungus, Sphaerobolus stellatus, with Trichoderma harzianum and Bacillus subtilis".". Journal of Environmental Horticulture. 19: 21–23.
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