earthstar ( Basidiomycetes )

Pronunciation key

( ũrthstär′ )



Fungus species. Its external covering splits into a form that bears resemblance to a star.

The traditional name for this class of fungi were the Gasteromycetes, Taxonomic Serial No.: 14095 which notes, "The Dictionary of Fungi (1995) says, of Gasteromycetes, "The polyphyletic nature of the group makes it inappropriate to maintain in a natural classification...". It has been declared invalid and the accepted scientific name is Basidiomycetes.

According to A Golden Guide: Non-Flowering Plants ©1967, (paraphrased)

Earthstars split open during maturity. They have a thick outer layer which divides into pointed segments which resembles a star. This reveals a ball-shaped structure with a thin, papery-textured coat. Spores discharge from mouth-openings on the top. Mycelium threads often enmesh debris about outer segments.

Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom Fungi – fungi
Division Basidiomycota – basidiomycetes, club fungi
Class Basidiomycetes
Direct Children:
Order Agaricales
Order Auriculariales
Order Boletales
Order Cantharellales
Order Lycoperdales
Order Melanogastrales
Order Sclerodermatales
Order Tremellales


Triplex Earthstar
triplex earthstar, Geastrum (or Geaster) triplex


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Crowned Earthstar Crowned Earthstar, Geastrum coronatum or Geaster coronatum

References and Further Reading

  • Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language (College Edition) ©1955
  • A Golden Guide: Non-Flowering Plants ©1967
  • Basidiomycetes, Taxonomic Serial No.: 14093
  • Zoology Quest: Class Basidiomycetes
  • Zoology Quest: Geaster triplex
  • Crowned earthstar ( Geaster or Geastrum Coronatus )
  • Beaked Earthstar
  • "Earthstars belong to a group... of fungi called Gasteromycetes, or "stomach fungi". Their fruiting bodies are a stomach-shaped sac filled with dry spores. They are related to puffballs. Young, closed earthstars are onion-shaped. Their peridium (skin) is made up of three layers. The layers allow the earthstar to do something no other fungus can do. Earthstars can move!"
  • Fungus of the Month for December 2003, This month's fungus is Astraeus hygrometricus, an earthstar.
  • Fungal Flickr favourites
  • Genus: Geaster, Unknown: Geaster triplex
  • Typification of Geastrium
  • Geaster (Genus)
  • Earth Star Fungus – In the Lily Wood
  • Earthstars
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