Calvatia gigantea

Fresh specimen of Calvatia gigantea

Kingdom: Fungi

Phyla: Basidiomycota

Class: Agaricomycetes

Order: Agaricales

Family: Agaricaceae

Genus: Calvatia

Species: C. gigantea

Description: Calvatia gigantea known as a giant puffball can be easily identified by its giant size. Large hemispherical fruiting body is very similar to ball. It is one of the largest fungi in the world. The largest giant puffball weighted forty-eight pounds and was eight feet, and eight inches in diameter. It was estimated that a single ten-inch giant puffball has as many as 7 trillion spores. If each spore grew and yielded a ten-inch puffball, the combined amount of puffball mass would be 8—times that of the earth. It is incredible!

The first description of giant puffball was by German naturalist August Johann Georg Kalr Batsch in 1786. He called this fungus Lycoperdon giganteum. Later in 1904 Curtis Gates Lloyd an American mycologist and pharmacist change its name to current name.

Spores of Calvatia gigantea

Stem (stipe) Giant puffball does not have any stem but it attached to the ground via string like attachment. Flesh: White flesh when is fresh. It is an edible mushroom but flesh has to be white all the way through to be edible. If flesh is not white and turning yellow to brownish and green color are past their prime and should not be eaten. The texture of giant puffballs should be soft, like cutting a loaf of bread. Spores: Spores 3-5.5 x 3-5 μ, round or nearly so; minutely spiny or nearly smooth. Spore print is olive-brown color. Odor/Taste: Very faint, pleasant, no distinctive taste.

Ecology notes: Giant puffballs are saprotorophs meaning they feed on dead organic matter. Mostly they found on lawns, fields, field edges, and occasionally hardwoods. They usually appear during fall season. Giant puffballs usually re-appear at the same place each year.

Relevance to humans: Edible and very recognizable mushroom. It has been used as a styptic medicine. It used to reduce bleeding by using spores and for wound dressing. It also has anti-cancer agent calvacin that was isolated from young fruit bodies. However there is no information if it this still used in present time

Giant puffballs white flesh. One of the identification of edible stage of giant puffball.












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