Fruiting body small, 5-15 (20) mm broad, subglobose to compressed globose, sessile, attached to the substrate by a tuft of soil-encrusting mycelium; exoperidium thin, white, flocculose, fragmenting in age (except apically), leaving tiny pallid to buff-colored scales over a dull-brown, papery endoperidium; spores released via a small, raised apical pore; gleba brown in age, elastic; subgleba and sterile base absent; odor and taste not determined.
Spores 4.0-5.5 (6.0) µm, globose to broadly ovoid, with a central oil droplet, smooth to minutely roughened at 1000X; pedicels 2.5-6.0 microns in length; capillitium from the central gleba "intermediate type" lacking pores.
Solitary to clustered, occasionally in broad arcs; growing in sparse grass, herbs, and mosses of moist montane meadows, especially those adjoining lakes and streams; fruiting from late spring to early fall; rare to locally common in wet years; easily overlooked because of size.
Unknown; probably edible but too small to have culinary value.
This liliputan puffball, seldom larger than a penny, is at home along riparian corridors at mid and high elevations of the Sierra Nevada. Besides size, it is recognized by a whitish exoperdium that at maturity leaves small, cream to buff-colored fragments on a brownish endoperium, a slightly raised apical pore, an elastic, brown gleba, and "intermediate type capillitium" lacking pores. Several Bovista species are similar and a microscope is needed to separate them. Bovista limosa, which may occur in California, is macroscopically very similar, but has spores with pedicels that are distinctly longer, > 7 microns. Bovista plumbea, a widely distributed and common small puffball, is distinguished by a glabrous white exoperidium that falls away at maturity to reveal a grey, not brown endoperidium. Bovista aestivalis and Bovista dermoxantha are also similar. They differ in larger size and have root-like rhizomorphic attachments to the substrate rather than a tuft of soil-binding mycelium. Microscopically Bovista dermoxantha has a "Lycoperdon type" capillitium with pores of various sizes, while Bovista aestivalis, which is common in sandy areas along the coast, and found occasionally in the Sierras, has an "intermediate type" capillitium with abundant small pores.