The safest mushroom in the UK for novice foragers with the only look-a-like being a football when spotted from afar.
|Common Names||Giant Puffball (EN), Coden Fwg Enfawr (CY), Purchawica Olbrzymia (PL), Óriás Pöfeteg (HU)|
|Scientific Name||Calvatia gigantea|
|Synonyms||Langermannia gigantea, Lycoperdon giganteum|
|Average Mushroom height (CM)||0|
|Average Cap width (CM)||80|
White to off-white with a fine velvet like surface when young becoming smooth and papery. The inside of the fruiting body will turn to brown mature spores and these will be released when the mushroom ages, is damaged or even blown across a field like tumbleweed.
No stem although sometimes they can still be connected to the ground with a fine root like filament..
Grasslands, pasture, lawns, commons and roadsides. Found in rings, troops or individually. You will also find these in and around open woodland. They like to hide in amongst nettles and scrub. We have found them on steep sided woodland banks too.
The only thing a Giant Puffball can be confused with is a football from a distance or possibly a Mosaic Puffball (Lycoperdon utriforme), pictured although the Mosaic Puffball has warts on the skin, the Giant Puffballs surface is smooth or maybe slightly velvety.
Yellow/brown. Spherical with fine warts. The spores come from the inside of the fruiting body and are brown. The ‘skin’ has come away in the image revealing the large mass of spores.
Taste / Smell
Excellent. Can be sliced and fried like a steak or breaded and fried for a better texture.
This fungi has the most progeny of any living thing producing up to seven trillion spores on average. It has been estimated that if all the spores from two generations grew into mushrooms, they would produce something 800 times the volume of the Earth.
The spores used to be used by blacksmiths for burns and as a coagulant for staunching wounds.
Breathing in the spores of this fungi can cause Lycoperdonosis a nasty lung disease so care should be taken when handling mature specimens.
The best ‘fact’ provided on the whole of the website is on this page. Can be confused as a football from a distance! Brilliant.
I found something like this in my garden in a heap of dried leaves but it kinda small like an egg of a bird. But the characteristics are the same it’s color yellow inside and very soft. It’s white and firm in outside appearance.
Found some of these on a field near us.
So a younger specimen was selected and later divided into 1 1/2 cms thick slices/fingers
Dipped in seasoned egg mixture then into Panko breadcrumbs.
Fried, then enjoyed with some dipping sauce.
Very like a more textured Tofu.
Found a whopper this morning and plan to have a slice for lunch with bacon. It weighs 4lbs 11oz – is this a winner?!
Hi Jenny, the record winner in the UK was 66.5 inches across found by a schoolboy in Yorkshire. It doesn’t mention any weight in the article.
Just found one in the strawberry patch ! about 10″ diameter. Had a few slices for lunch , very much like tofu . Will try the dipped in egg and breadcrumbs later .
I see the spores for these on sale fairly regularly on ebay etc – does anybody know if you can have any success with these? I used to pick fairly locally but have not seen any for years unfortunately.
It is possible but unlikely any spores would take. The Giant Puffball produces on average seven trillion spores but we are not engulfed in them as to grow they need the perfect conditions. Basically they are very fussy.
Just found one in the “wildlife area” while filling my bird feeders – only the second in the 40 years we’ve lived here. I gave the last one away but we’re going to eat this one
I found two in a field on Sunday. I wasn’t sure if they were edible, so I left. Actually thought someone had lost their ball at first! They were huge! Next time I’ll take them home.
Found and ate quite a few of giant puffballs, but today i found a puffball fairy ring (have photo). In the same field as multiple field mushroom rings and a fairy Champignons ring. Will pop back for some Champignons as i have not identified them before.
Just found a couple in my garden. Think the slugs beat me to them as can see that they’ve been devoured slightly ! Apart from a bit of a crater surface they appear fine. Thanks Mother Nature!
Never saw them around Upstate NY and now all of a sudden they’re growing big-time in my backyard after 25 years here. So thanks for the info.
My mum found one yesterday and thought it was a skull at first! We’ve just cut it into slices and it’s white apart from about an inch of yellowish white on the top. Would it be okay to eat still if we discard the yellow bits? Thanks in advance 🙂
Sorry for the far too late reply, as long as the flesh you use is white and fresh, it is edible.
Thanks for the article – when these are around the size of a chicken egg, is it possible to confuse them with young amanita? I found some mushrooms I believe to be puffballs on a heath in the Cotswolds near Cheltenham at the weekend but I’m not 100% sure with the identification due to size. I’ve cut many in half and they all seem to be consistently white and soft throughout, without any evidence of a young amanita growing inside.
This reply is incredibly late, but yes, it is possible to confuse the two. You should cut them in half and if they are entirely white and soft like you said, they are good to eat! I am not an expert so please don’t trust this 100%, but they should be okay!
Good information. I found two in a lightly wooded area in my back yard. I live close to chicago. Very interesting!
Is it possible to take a slice and leave to grow?
I found what I think is a small one of these in the branching bows of a tree. It is rock hard. Could this be one?
Giant Puffballs only grow from the earth, not from wood. It must be a bracket fungus, which will be inedible.
We found one today.
Definitely thought it was a football at first.
73 cm circumference.
Got some great pictures of it on
Our Instagram page
Ev’s Historical world