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Edible Mushrooms: Giant Puffball (Calvatia gigantea)

Calvatia giganteaGiant puffballs are saprophytes and found in temperate zones thoughout the world in disturbed sites with nutrient-rich soil such as woodland edges, meadows , fields, grasslands, and parks. They usually appear in summer and fall in fairy rings. The ball-shaped fruiting body is very large and impressive, measuring up to thirty inches across and weighing up to forty-four pounds, although eight or nine is more usual. The exterior of the fruiting body is covered by a smooth, leathery outer skin that is white or creamy before turning yellow, then brown, and finally rooting away to facilitate the release of the olive-brown spores. The interior consists of a huge number of spores and is compact, firm and white before disintegrating and turning brown as the spores mature.

Giant puffballs are only edible when young and the flesh is white and compact. Once the flesh turns yellow or brown the mushroom can cause digestive problems and should be avoided. Although the giant puffball is considered edible it is not considered choice because of its bland flavor.

Puffballs have a distinctive look but immature cap mushrooms that might be poisonous have a similar appearance. Whenever collecting mushrooms in the wild for consumption, the advice of an expert should be sought to avoid problems.

Photo Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0, Link