Calvatia gigantea Lycoperdaceae Giant Puffball

With cows Close up

Calvatia gigantea 21kb

Calvatia gigantea, Giant Puffball. The Giant Puffball is unmistakeable once fully grown, often being taken for a football, or even, at a distance, for sheep in a field. The skin is smooth and white when fresh, and it is attached at one point, but can become detached and loose. When in good edible condition the flesh inside is firm and white; once it begins to yellow it is too late to consume. It is uncommon and decreasing in the island, probably due to more intensive agriculture. However, it can still occur, as in this cow pasture, in some numbers. Those in the photo form a rough ring. It is also worth looking under Nettles or Brambles in areas at the edge of grassland. Once ripened it releases millions of brown spores, and the thick, felty brown internal structure that remains can last for years.This material was used by my mother as the tinder in her smoke-puffer that calmed the bees when working on the hives. One of our favourite edible species, and cannot be mistaken for anything else.


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