Common Puffball, Devil’s Snuffbox. wild mushroom, Gem-Studded Puffball, Gemmed Puffball, how to identify a Gem-Studded Puffball, Lycoperdon perlatum, Warted Puffball
I have been eyeing some beautiful little puffballs for over a week now and finally took time to do some research on them. After consulting my reference books, field guides and many websites, my confidence was high and I was ready to give them a try. I thought this would be a good mushroom to start with as they are very easy to identify (and you further confirm their identity by slicing them in half and seeing what they look like on the inside). They are considered to be a very safe mushroom.
H and I harvested all that we could find on our morning hike, which was only about twelve very small puffballs (just under 1 inch wide). We ended up discarding half of them as they were just turning yellowish, and when sliced in half, were forming stink holes inside and getting a bit soft and pungent. When they are at this softer stage they are actually still edible and even considered a delicacy in Germany, but as this was my first adventure foraging and cooking fresh wild mushrooms, I wasn’t interested! It is probably an acquired taste! The remaining puffballs were nice and firm and had perfect undifferentiated white flesh. Satisfied that I was indeed working with puffballs, I sliced these very thinly, sautéed them in butter and served them over poached eggs at breakfast. They were delicious!!!
This is our wild mushroom breakfast, served with grilled tomatoes and brioche.
Because there was such a small amount of the cooked mushrooms, we ate very slowly, prolonging the experience as much as we could. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a mushroom this fresh before! Again… delicious!!!
We also had a Wild Berry Fruit Salad on the side:
If you are interested in learning more about Lycoperdon perlatum, here is some of my research and a few helpful resources:
Gem-Studded Puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum)
According to Schalkwyk (1987), true puffballs are the safest possible mushrooms to identify and eat. They are also known as Common Puffball, Gemmed Puffball, Warted Puffball or Devil’s Snuffbox.
One of the most common puffballs in North America, Lycoperdon perlatum is usually round or pear-shaped and grows both, on its own or in a group. You can find this mushroom from July to October growing on the ground, both in the woods as well as in open areas.
Lycoperdon perlatum is edible and choice when young. They can grow up to 3.5 inches across and 4 inches high. Due to their distinct shape and texture, they are easy to identify and gather for cooking. While young, the flesh is firm, white in color and undifferentiated. As it ages, the flesh turns yellowish and eventually brown and its firmness is replaced with a powdery texture. The surface is covered with white, gray or brown spines, which fall off as the mushroom matures.
Be sure to pick onesthat are white and firm to the touch. Once you get home, confirm your mushroom’s identity by slicing them in half. If the flesh is white and undifferentiated, it is a puffball and safe to eat. If, instead of undifferentiated white flesh you see the shape of an embryonic mushroom, it may be an amanita (in the button stage) and poisonous. Discard!
As puffballs mature, a ‘stink hole’ forms. It is called this because it smells like carrion, which inspired the name ‘Devil’s Snuffbox’. The stink hole leads to a single pore at the top of the mushroom where the spores are released.
There are around 18 different types of puffballs (according to my research so far); most notable is the Giant Puffball, which can be up to five feet across and weighing 50 pounds! Robert Rogers lists many medicinal uses for puffballs in his book, The Fungal Pharmacy: Medicinal Mushrooms of Western Canada. (Note: We had the privilege of attending Alberta’s First Annual Herb Gathering just a few weeks ago, which was organized by Robert (and Abrah Arneson). His workshop on Medicinal Mushrooms was inspiring and I was in awe of his encyclopedic knowledge of mushrooms and fungi! He is the Vice President of The Alberta Mycological Society and teaches at the University of Alberta as well for the Earth Spirit Medicine Program at the Northern Star College. I highly recommend his book.)
How to Prepare Puffballs for Eating:
Brush or peel the mushroom.
Sauté in butter and add to salads, casseroles, soups, pasta dishes, etc.
*NEVER eat anything that you are not absolutely sure of the identity of. If, like me, you are just starting out, consider joining your local Mycological Society (i.e. Alberta Mycological Society) and participating in some forays in your local area.
Rogers, R. (2006). The Fungal Pharmacy: Medicinal Mushrooms of Western
Canada. Prairie Deva Press: Edmonton Alberta.
Schalkwyk, H. (1987). Some Edible and Poisonous Mushrooms in and Around
Edmonton. Self Published. Edmonton, Alberta.
Sept, J.D. (2006). Common Mushrooms of the Northwest. Calypso Publishing: Sechelt,
Once again beautiful photographs and very useful information. Thank You for sharing. Apparently one of the common use of puffballs in first nation people is to stop bleeding— for treatment of cuts, wounds, abrasions, nosebleed, and
check it out..http://www.mushroomthejournal.com/bestof/Puffball_styptics.pdf
thanks for the comment! Yes, In Robert’s book there were so many medicinal uses that I just ended up referring everyone to the book. He mentioned that the Cree and Blackfoot (as well as the Ancient Greeks) also used puffballs to removed tiny objects stuck in the eye. Reminds me of a funny story I once heard… 🙂 Interesting! I’m looking forward to leaning all that I can about mushrooms!
I want to come for breakfast to your place…..lol All looks amazing!
Consider this an official invitation! In the meantime, I’ll come see you in the fall when the garden is done. Love you! 🙂
I cut myself shaving today -> I wish I had puffball mushroom, instead I had to use a toilet paper.
Hello! Someone in my Facebook group shared this site with us so I came to look it over. I’m definitely loving the information. I’m bookmarking and will be tweeting this to my followers! Exceptional blog and great style and design.
Pingback: identifying edible wild mushrooms at the Devonian Botanical Garden « cabinorganic
This is how I actually stumbled upon your website – I was doing a search for puff balls Alberta. I took the Spring Mushroom class at the Devonian – loved it. And this year I’ve been wandering our acreage looking for (and finding) puff balls, shaggy manes and they are both delicious! I am sure I found a bolete last week-end but need more research before it hits the frying pan.
Love your photos – can you please share what kind of camera you’re using?
P.S. I’ve been using your blog as my “reward” these past few days – to peruse after I’ve written a webinar or coached a client. Thanks for the inspiration!
It’s great to find a kindred spirit and fellow mushroom lover! I’ve always been fascinated by mushrooms and since moving out here two years ago I’ve seen so many more varieties than I have ever seen in my life! Last fall I joined the Alberta Mycological Society but only made it to one meeting and missed all of the forays for one reason or another. The class at the DBG was just what I needed to get me back to more learning and tasting.
My camera is a Canon Rebel T2i. It’s nearly impossible to take a bad picture with that things. Close ups are taken with a 100 mm macro lens.
Good Luck in your continued mushroom adventures, Kim! Now that I know what a bolete is I can’t seem to find them anywhere anymore! I used to see them every day all summer!
Thank you for the camera tip! I love wandering around and taking pictures on our acreage but my little dinky digital doesn’t do the best job.
I went to one foray in the spring looking for morels. Didn’t find one. But who did? All the ladies who were over 70. So next year I am sticking with the grandmas! (I did find 2 little black morels on our property immediately afterward so I shouldn’t whine too much)
I’ll be making your rosehip jam on the week-end or maybe that lovely syrup with brandy….it speaks to me!
I’ve been kicking around an idea for a personal blog for quite some time and you’ve inspired me to do something before the end of the year. So thanks for that, lady!
Brody Palmer said:
We old ones dried up on the school field in elementary and they were known to all the kids as “Bull Farts” I’m pretty sure nobody even knew they were originally a mushroom.