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Puffball

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Puffball
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Scientific Classification
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Puffballs are the member of fungus in the division Basidiomycota. They are the kind of mushroom found in soil or on decaying wood in grassy areas and woods. The Puffballs are named for the fact that puffs of spores are released when the dry and powdery tissues of the mature spherical fruiting body are disturbed. Most puffballs are edible however, pigskin puffballs that have a black interior and should never be eaten.[1]

Contents

Anatomy

A White puffball in the garden

Puffballs have many different sizes, some are as small as a marble and some are as large as a basketball. They are smooth and covered with small or large warts. The Puffballs are 4-6㎝ in tall and 3.5-5㎝ wide. Puffballs are usually white and light brown and inside is all-white. If cut in half, they show a compact rind enclosing a loose tissue in the interspaces where the spores are developed. The size of puffball spores are 3-5㎝ in diameter. Unlike most other fungi, puffballs contain the spores inside. The giant puffball is a large mushroom, covered with spectacular polygonal white to buff warts, looks like a soccer ball in size. It reaches more than a foot and it can weight up to 40 pounds. Giant puffball grows on the sloping areas of bare earth in urban areas.[2][3][4]

Reproduction

Most puffballs reproduces in a three stages asexually. When they are young, their fruiting bodies are whitish spheres, sometimes with short stalks, and are fleshy in texture. When they start getting older, their color turn brown in a few weeks and start to rot.

Ecology

Puffball puffing

The puffballs grow anywhere in the ground. They grow on rotting wood, meadows, on heaths, and lawns. They produce pear-shaped or rounded fruit-bodies. Spores are produced within these fruit-bodies and when mature they are released through a pore or a tear that develops near the top of the fruit-body. When the puffball grows, its white skin color turns brown, soon its skin gets stripped off. All puffballs are decomposers, breaking down dead wood, or organic material in the soil, into their constituents. Plants can then use these materials for renewed growth. The maximum daytime temperatures ranged from 20s to 40s, with some very strong winds and cool breezes, along with a few short light to heavy showers.[5][6]

Giant Puffball Mushroom

The Puffball has a bright white inner meat with a dense and firm texture, somewhat similar to a marshmallow, that should not tear when cut cleanly. If the flesh is discolored (yellowed or brown), does not cut cleanly or contains evidence of excessive moisture, avoid using the Puffball. Before eating, cut open the Puffball to make sure it contains only a consistently dense flesh without features such as gills, a stem or a cap beginning to form. Since small varieties of Puffball mushrooms can be confused for other poisonous varieties such as "Amanitas" or "Amanitaceae" when they are very young it is really important to cut open the mushroom to check for gills. As the Puffball mushrooms mature and dry their color changes from white to yellow and then brown on the outside with a powdery collection of dark brown spores on the inside. Puffballs can be stored in the refrigerator for several days before loosing their flavor. When preparing Puffballs, brush the dirt away from the outer skin and cut the bottom base off of the round mushroom.

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References

  • [7] Puffball. Wikipedia®. 5 March 2009.
  • [8] Puffballs. Kuo, M. 2008, November.
  • [9] LYCOPERDACEAE & GEASTRACEAE in the Pacific Northwest. Pacific Northwest Key Council. Feb. 2003.

See Also

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