giant puffball mushroom

Giant puffballs aren't your typical mushrooms. These round, off-white fungi range from the size of a softball to a beach ball! Since they don't have stems, giant puffballs "sit" on lawns and meadows, absorbing nutrients from the soil. A mature giant puffball contains trillions of tiny spores that emerge as a puff of "smoke" if the mushroom is tapped or kicked.

Scientific name: Langermannia gigantean
Size: 3 inches to 2 feet in diameter
Where found: southern England and temperate regions except in western North America
Habitat: in meadows; under small trees; in well-fertilized areas
Characteristics: bland and yucky flavor; round or pear-shaped; when tapped, trillions of spores can escape in a cloud of dust

Image credits: main image: Br. Alfred Brousseau, Saint Mary's College, California Academy of Sciences.