Calvatia gigantea (Batsch) Lloyd 1904
Lycoperdon giganteum Batsch 1786
Giant puffballs are natives of North America and Europe. They are partial to open meadows, lawns, or deciduous forests; and to roadsides or woodland edges.
Identification: Giant puffballs form a large, misshapen mass like rising bread dough, or a big partly melted marshmallow. The “dough” is called the gleba. Giant puffballs are usually 4-20" (10-50 cm) in diameter, rarely reaching up to 5' (1.5 m) and weights of 20 kg (44 lb). There is no distinct cap, and the interior of the mass is uniform white in color in younger puffballs. As the puffball matures, the entire interior turns into spores—about seven trillion of them! The interior becomes yellow, then greenish brown as they form. Eventually the surface dries and cracks, allowing dark, smoky-looking clouds of spores to float away. Spores are yellow, round, smooth, and 2.5-4 µm in diameter. They produce an olive brown spore print. Puffballs appear from late summer to mid fall.
Edibility: Young puffballs are edible, as long as their interior is a uniform white in color. (If you see any gills or structure, you aren’t looking at a puffball, and there is a good chance it is poisonous.) As soon as the gleba begins turning yellow or brown, they taste bad and become inedible. Peel the fruit, and cut out any parts with insects. Don’t rinse with water, which will make the flesh soggy. Slice the fruit into sections and cook.
Medical: Puffballs have a styptic property—they help to stop bleeding—and have long been used as wound dressings.
Calvatia gigantea on Michael Kuo's MushroomExpert.com
Calvatia gigantea on www.mushroom-appreciation.com
Calvatia gigantea on the Cornell Mushroom Blog
Calvatia gigantea on Wikipedia
Calvatia gigantea on www.ediblewildfood.com
Calvatia gigantea on www.first-nature.com
Calvatia gigantea description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 10 Sep 2020.