Synonyms: Calvatia bovista (Pers.) Kambly & Lee; Calvatia utriformis (Bull.: Pers.) Jaap
Fruiting body 7.0-25.0 cm broad, 9.0-20.0 cm tall, turbinate to compressed-pyriform; apex of fruiting body rounded or dimpled when young, becoming flattened to depressed, tapering gradually or abruptly to a well developed sterile base; exoperidium approximately 1.0-1.5 mm thick, white to cream-colored, dull brown in age, tomentose to subfloccose, fibrils often forming stellate scales, these in turn aggregated into larger areolate patches, especially on the upper portions of the of the immature fruiting body; endoperidium thin, membranous, disintegrating apically, producing a crater-like opening; gleba cream-colored, soft, soon yellowish-green to olive-brown, powdery in age; subgleba occupying the lower third to one-half of the fruiting body, separated from the gleba by a membranous diaphragm, subglebal tissue composed of cream-colored cells up to 1 mm in diameter; odor and taste of immature gleba not distinctive.
Spores globose to subglobose, 4.5-5.5 µm in diameter, smooth, moderately thick-walled, with a single oil droplet, lacking a pedicel; spores olive-brown in mass; capillitial pits common, consisting mostly of sinuous slits.
Solitary or in small groups in grasslands or in open woodlands; fruiting from late fall to spring; fairly common.
Edible when young, but lacking texture.
Traditionally placed in Calvatia, we have followed Kreisel (1989) who erected the genus Hankea, for those species of Calvatia that have sinuous, not round capillitial pits, weak to non-dextrinoid endoperidial tissue, and false rather than true septate capillitium. Handkea utriformis is a relatively large puffball, recognized by a broad often flattened head and a well-developed sterile base. Other identifying features include a felty to floccose exoperidium with stellate scales, broad flat warts, and an olivaceous gleba. Remnants of fruitings are urn to bowl-shaped and may persist for months. Similar puffballs include Calvatia cyathiformis, C. booniana, and C. pachyderma. Calvatia cyathiformis can be differentiated by a purplish gleba and more or less glabrous (except for areolate patches) exoperidium. Calvatia booniana is similar in having a felty-floccose exoperidium but lacks a pseudostipe. Its capillitium has rounded, not sinuous pits. Calvatia pachyderma can be separated by a rind-like, thick, more or less glabrou xs (except for areolate areas) exoperidium, and lacks of a sterile base. Compare also with Vascellum pratense, which is similar in shape, also has a diaphragm and sterile base, but is considerably smaller.