The fruit body ranges in shape from pear-like with a flattened top, to nearly spherical, and reaches dimensions of 1.5 to 6 cm wide by 3 to 7 cm tall. It has a stem-like base. The outer surface of the fruit body (the exoperidium) is covered in short cone-shaped spines that are interspersed with granular warts. The spines, which are whitish, gray, or brown, can be easily rubbed off, and leave reticulate pock marks or scars after they are removed. The base of the puffball is thick, and has internal chambers. It is initially white, but turns yellow, olive, or brownish in age. The reticulate pattern resulting from the rubbed-off spines is less evident on the base. In maturity, the exoperidium at the top of the puffball sloughs away, revealing a pre-formed hole (ostiole) in the endoperidium, through which the spores can escape. In young puffballs, the internal contents, the gleba, is white and firm, but turns brown and powdery as the spores mature.
Grows solitarily, scattered, or in groups or clusters on the ground. It can also grow in fairy rings. Typical habitats include woods, grassy areas, and along roads. The puffball sometimes confuses golfers because of its resemblance to a golfball when viewed from a distance.