Elite life



   Puffballs range widely in size and appearance, from tiny species that grow in clusters on wood, to large, terrestrial species growing in fairy rings in meadows. A few species, like Calvatia gigantea, are enormous, reaching diameters of 50 cm. Most puffballs are edible; some are quite popular and can be found for sale.


Giant Puffball (Calvatia gigantean, Langermannia gigantean)

   The giant puffball, Calvatia gigantea, is easily recognized by its size and shape. Typical specimens are about the size of a soccer ball, and more or less round. Like all puffballs with white interiors, Calvatia gigantea is edible before the flesh begins to darken and turn into spore dust. Growing alone or gregariously in grass - often at the edges of meadows, in drainage ditches, or under brush; late summer and early fall. Distribution, America and Europe.
   Fruit body 7-80 cm across, subglobose, whitish and leathery, the outer wall breaking away to expose the spore mass, attached to the substrate by a root-like mycelial cord which breaks leaving the fruit body free to roll around and so scatter the millions of spores. Gleba olivaceous-brown and powdery at maturity; sterile base absent or rudimentary. Spores tawny brown, globose, finely warted, 3.5-5.5 μm in diameter.


Western Giant Puffball (Calvatia booniana)

  The Giant puffball (Calvatia gigantea) is a puffball mushroom commonly found in meadows, fields, and deciduous forests worldwide usually in late summer and autumn. The large white mushrooms are edible when young.
Most giant puffballs grow to be 10 to 70 cm in diameter, although occasionally some can reach diameters up to 150 cm and weights of 20 kg. The inside of the mature Giant puffballs is greenish brown, whereas the interior of immature puffballs is white.

Puffball (Calvatia bovista)

   Calvatia bovista is a relatively large puffball, recognized by a broad often flattened head and a well-developed sterile base. Habitat: 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.
   Sporocarp: 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.

Purple-Spored Puffball (Calvatia cyathiformis)

   While this puffball does not have a strong flavor of its own, it is still quite good, and its ability to absorb flavors makes it a rewarding find. Fruiting on lawns, pastures, golf courses and prairies from summer to fall; scattered to gregarious, often forming fairy rings; widely distributed. Found widespread in eastern North America and the Great Plains. Season July-November.
   Fruiting body: 5-20 cm high and/or broad; round or flattened when young; becoming pear-shaped or round with a flattened top and narrowed base; white, tan or pinkish gray to light brown; smooth, the skin cracking and flaking with age; sterile base prominent, chambered, white to dingy yellow or darker, persisting as a deep purplish to purple-brown cuplike structure after the spores have dispersed; flesh white and firm when young, becoming yellowish, then brownish and finally dull purple and powdery. Spores 3.5-7.5 μm; round, spiny or warty to nearly smooth. Capillitial threads 3-7.5 μm wide; thick-walled; minutely pitted.


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