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Calvatia gigantea (Batsch) Lloyd 1904

Giant puffball

ParentsUnknownGenus is not in the current taxonomy
GenusCalvatiaFrom the Latin calvus, “bald;” and calvaria, ”dome of the skull”

About plant names...

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.

Online References:

Michael Kuo's MushroomExpert.com


The Cornell Mushroom Blog




Lycoperdon giganteum Batsch 1786


Calvatia gigantea description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 10 Sep 2020.

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Calvatia gigantea (giant puffball)

7/29/2023 · John’s House, Selkirk, New York · By John W. Kent