Taxonomy and phylogeny
The species was first mentioned in the scientific literature by
Samuel Doody in the second edition of
John Ray's Synopsis methodica stirpium Britannicarum in 1696.
 Doody briefly described the mushroom like so: "fungus pulverulentus, coli instar perforatus, cum volva stellata" (a powdery mushroom, perforated like a colander, with a star-shaped volva), and went on to explain that he found it in 1695 in
's Coloured Figures of English Fungi or Mushrooms
It was first
described scientifically as a new species in 1776 from collections made in England by
James Dickson, who named it Lycoperdon coliforme. He found it growing in roadside banks and hedgerows among nettles in
Nicaise Auguste Desvaux first defined and published the new genus Myriostoma in 1809, with the species renamed Myriostoma anglicum (an
Christian Hendrik Persoon had previously placed the species in
Geastrum in 1801,
Samuel Frederick Gray would in 1821 describe the genus Polystoma for it.
 Myriostoma coliforme received its current and final name when
August Carl Joseph Corda moved Dickson's name to Myriostoma in 1842, replacing Desvaux's name.
In North America the fungus began to be reported in the late 19th century, first from
Charles Horton Peck, and later from
Florida, collected by
Lucien Underwood in 1891; both findings were reported by
Andrew Price Morgan in April 1892.
 In 1897, Melville Thurston Cook also reported having collected it the year before from "Albino Beach".
Curtis Gates Lloyd described Bovistoides simplex from a South African specimen in 1919,
 but in 1942,
William Henry Long examined that specimen and concluded that it was a weathered spore sac of M. coliforme that had become detached from the outer star-shaped exoperidium.
 This conclusion was confirmed in a later study of the material.
Myriostoma had been
classified in the family
Geastraceae until 1973, when British mycologist
Donald Dring placed it in the Astraeaceae
[nb 1] based on the presence of trabeculae (stout columns that extend from the
peridium to the central core of the fruit body) in the
gleba, and the absence of a true
 In his 1989
monograph, Stellan Sunhede returned it to the Geastraceae.
Molecular analysis of DNA sequences has confirmed the traditional belief that Myriostoma and Geastrum are closely related.
Czech naturalist and mycologist
Václav Jan Staněk proposed a
variety capillisporum in 1958,
 which has been sunk back into
synonymy with the species.
 M. coliforme is the sole species in Myriostoma, making the genus
 Because the original
type material has been lost, in 1989 Sunhede suggested that Dickson's illustration in his 1776 publication (tab. III: 4a & b) be used as the
specific epithet is derived from the
Latin words colum, meaning "strainer", and forma, meaning "shape"—Berkeley's
vernacular name "Cullenden puff-ball" also refers to a
 Gray called it the "sievelike pill-box".
 The generic name is from the
Greek words μυρίος, meaning "countless" and στόμα, meaning "mouth" (the source of the technical term
 The species is commonly known as the "salt-and-pepper shaker earthstar"
 or simply the "pepperpot".