Everything you ever wanted to know about puffballs but were afraid to ask! No, not really. Just a quick hello with a purple-spored puffball in my yard. Also known as Calvatia cyathiformis, this beauty prefers arid and grassy places, appearing where I live late in dry summers. This season, that meant maturing and sporulating just in time for some autumn rain to fill its cup….you can see some fine drops covered with finer spores in one image above, and what is basically a puddle coated with spores in the picture on the right. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen this video of me playing this puffball like a drum (no puffballs were harmed in the making of this video). Yes, I could have eaten this puffball when they first appeared, but I’m usually more interested in observing and interacting with (rather than consuming) the creatures in my neighbourhood. Some species are known as wolf-farts in French, others as bird’s eye makeup in Arabic; ‘puffball’, while descriptive, sort of pales in comparison. Have a look around, you might find some of these unobstrusive beings tucked into a grassy verge near you.
If anyone ever calls you an old puffball, consider taking it as a compliment. Mushroom guidebooks often refer to certain species having ‘persistent fruitbodies’, that is, they endure–for me, something woody like a bracket fungus typically comes to mind. Other species are highly ephemeral–think of something like a Shaggy Mane mushroom (Coprinus comatus), emerging and … Read more