Wednesday, April 18, 2012


A leftover from last autumn, this Giant Puffball (Calvatia gigantea) is now sporulating. That's a size eleven running shoe in the picture for scale, but this puffball can grow considerably larger, 60 cm is about average with the record being 5 feet and 50 lbs. A Giant Puffball is estimated to contain a whopping 7 billion spores ... now that ought to ensure reproductive success!

I almost overlooked two Stalked Puffballs (Tulostoma sp.) in the sandy soil along the trail; at first glance they appeared to be the dried stems and heads of last years flowers. No kidding – despite the long, tough, almost woody "stem", this really is a puffball – give the ball at the top a squeeze and it will release a small cloud of brown spores through its apical pore.

A group of Pestle Puffballs (Lycoperdon excipuliformis).

Since these puffballs were rolling around freely, I'm going to hazard a guess and call them Tumbling Puffballs, genus Bovista, possibly B. pila.