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Giant Puffball

Edible Edible
Summer Summer

The safest mushroom in the UK for novice foragers with the only look-a-like being a football when spotted from afar.

Mushroom Type
Common Names Giant Puffball
Scientific Name Calvatia gigantea
Synonyms Lycoperdon giganteum, Langermannia gigantea
Season Start Jul
Season End Sep
Average Mushroom height (CM) 0
Average Cap width (CM) 80
Please note that each and every mushroom you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.

Fruiting Body

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.

Stem

No stem although sometimes they can still be connected to the ground with a fine root like filament..

Flesh

White becoming yellow then brown as it turns into spores.

Habitat

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.

Possible Confusion

The only thing a Giant Puffball can be confused with is a football from a distance or possibly a Mosaic Puffball, pictured although the Mosaic Puffball has warts on the skin, the Giant Puffballs surface is smooth or maybe slightly velvety.

Spore Print

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.

Frequency

Fairly common.

Other Facts

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.

COMMENTS

12 comments for Giant Puffball

  1. Hitendra Parmar says:

    The best ‘fact’ provided on the whole of the website is on this page. Can be confused as a football from a distance! Brilliant.

  2. Odelin Gonzales says:

    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.

  3. Gemma says:

    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.

  4. Jenny Morley says:

    Found a whopper this morning and plan to have a slice for lunch with bacon. It weighs 4lbs 11oz – is this a winner?!

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      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.

  5. Neil says:

    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 .

  6. Phill Stybar says:

    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.

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      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.

  7. Cherry Warne says:

    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

  8. Sophia B Hutchinson says:

    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.

  9. Rick says:

    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.

  10. Lisa V says:

    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!

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