The genus Calvatia (‘Gasteromycetes’, Lycoperdaceae): A review of its ethnomycology and biotechnological potential

  • JC Coetze
  • AE van Wyk
Keywords: Biotechnology, Calvatia, ethnomycology, gasteromycetes, Handkea, Langermannia, Lycoperdaceae, pathogenicity.


Several members of the fungal puffball genus Calvatia Fr. have found widespread use amongst various cultures world-wide, especially as sources of food and/or traditional medicine. Hitherto the biotechnological potential of only a handful of Calvatia species, namely C. cyathiformis, C. craniiformis,
C. excipuliformis, C. gigantea and C. utriformis has been investigated. However, despite promising results, information regarding the biotechnological potential of the rest of the genus, in particular the
African species, is still completely lacking. In the hope that it might stimulate interest and further research on this topic, the current paper provides a brief overview of the literature pertaining to the importance of Calvatia to man in terms of its pathogenicity, its ecology and role as bioindicator, its food
and nutritional value and also its potential as biotechnological tool in the pharmaceutical and other industries.

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eISSN: 1684-5315