Common Puffball - Lycoperdon perlatum

Main features

  • Fruit body has no true cap or gills

  • Has a stem-like base to the fruit body

  • Top of fruit body spherical

  • Can reach 6cm across

  • Up to 10cm tall

  • White skin with sharp warts all over the surface

  • Shaped like a pestle

  • Smell is mild and mushroomy

  • Flesh is white and with the consistency of a marsh-mallow sweet in young specimens

  • In older specimens, flesh turns yellow, then grey-brown and powdery

  • Found in woodland on decaying leaf litter and sometimes rotting wood

  • Fruit bodies can sometimes branch

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Common Puffball - Lycoperdon perlatum

Edible mushroom - novice

Other common names: Jewelled Puffball, Warted Puffball, No-Eyes, Blindman's Bellows, Devil's Snuffbox, Gem-Studded Puffball

 

Scientific name meaning: The Greek Lykos, meaning wolf, and perd meaning “to break wind” are the origins of the genus name. The species name Perlatum comes from the Latin Perula, meaning a rounded head like a pearl

Season - when will I find it? Late spring to early Autumn
 

Habitat - where will I find it? Woodland, occasionally pasture

Description - what does it look like? 

Growth: The Common Puffball is a saprobic fungus living of the dead and decaying leaf litter and wood. It can be found as single fruit bodies, in large numbers and fruit bodies can be branched

Fruitbody: There is no discernible cap on the common puffball. Instead it is solid with a spherical head and stem-like base. It is white with sharp warts covering its surface. There are no gills. The fruit can reach 6cm across and 10cm tall

Flesh: White and with the consistency of a marshmallow sweet. In older specimens the flesh turns yellow, then grey-brown, before releasing spores

Smell: Mild and mushromy

Spore colour: Light brown to dark brown

Possible lookalikes Earthballs, which are toxic, but these are purple or black inside. When very young, the inside of Earthballs can have a creamy interior, but a distinct band near the skins surface can be noted.
The Common Puffball could be easily confused with other puffballs, but all 18 UK species are edible.

Young Amanitas, which include deadly poisonous species, could also be mistaken for a puffball. However, an embryonic mushroom would be visible upon slicing the fruit top to bottom

Use as a food The Common Puffball must be pure white inside if it is to be consumed. Any specimens that have any sign of yellowing, or worse browning, should be discarded as they will cause severe gastric distress.

This mushroom is eaten cooked. The skin is tough so should be removed first. It is best to remove the "warts" in the field as they get everywhere!
It has a slimy consistency and does not have the strongest taste, so it is best added to mushroom soups as a thickener, or included in dishes with lots of other mushrooms of different textures

Use in herbal medicine The Common Puffball has been used as an antimicrobial, for which current studies are currently being undertaken

If you are suffering from any ailment or need medical advice, please see your General Practitioner

Hazards Do not consume if any part of the specimen is showing signs of going to spore – yellowing or browning of any part of the flesh.

This mushroom can grow on roadside grass verges where it can accumulate traffic-related toxins. It is advisable to avoid harvesting from the sides of busy roads

Importance to other species The Common Puffball is eaten by slugs and snails

Always stay safe when foraging. You need to be 100% sure of your identification, 100% sure that your foraged item is edible, and 100% sure that you are not allergic to it (it is good practice to always try a small amount of any new food you are consuming). If in doubt, leave it out!