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Calvatia gigantea (giant puffball)

Calvatia gigantea produces perhaps the largest fruitbody of any fungus, and is aptly referred to as the giant puffball. The unmistakeable fruitbodies, which appear in late summer and autumn, are often the size of footballs and sometimes much larger.
Giant puffball in grass

Calvatia gigantea in situ (Photo: Malcolm Storey, 2003, www.bioimages.org.uk)

Species information

Common name: 

giant puffball

Conservation status: 

Widespread and fairly common, and not considered of conservation concern in the UK. However, it is protected in parts of Poland and considered rare in Lithuania and of conservation concern in Norway.

Habitat: 

Found in nutrient-rich grassy places, parks, fields, roadside verges, scrub and woodland edge.

Key Uses: 

Food, medicinal, tinder, bee keeping.

Known hazards: 

None. This is an excellent edible species if collected when young and in good condition. Fruitbodies must be collected before the spores mature and when still white inside. Those from roadside verges should be avoided due to possible pollution from vehicl

Taxonomy

Kingdom: 
Fungi
Phylum: 
Basidiomycota
Subphylum: 
Agaricomycotina
Order: 
Agaricales
Family: 
Agaricaceae
Genus: Calvatia

About this species

The giant puffball is a distinctive species, producing perhaps the largest of all fungal fruitbodies. These occur from late summer through the autumn and can be found in various grassy habitats or amongst scrub. It is a good edible fungus whilst young and still white inside. The flesh becomes yellowish and then dark olive-brownish as the spores develop. The fruitbody eventually becomes filled with a mass of rather powdery spores, which are developed in a tissue called the capillitium. At maturity, the outer wall (peridium) breaks open and the spores are released in response to physical contact such as rain splash. 

Genus: 
Calvatia

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