Pestle Puffball - Lycoperdon excipuliforme

Main features

  • Fruitbody has no cap, true stem or gills

  • Grows in pastureland and woodland

  • Can reach 10cm across and 20cm tall

  • Dirty white skin that greys with age

  • Soft warts particularly on top of fruitbody that drop off with age

  • 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

  • When mature the top half ruptures leaving a bowl like shape on a stump

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Pestle Puffball - Lycoperdon excipuliforme

Edible mushroom - novice

Other common names: Long-stemmed 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 Excipuliforme is of Latin origin and means shaped like a goblet

Season - when will I find it? Summer to Autumn
 

Habitat - where will I find it? Pastureland and woodland

Description - what does it look like? 

Growth: The pestle Puffball is a saprobic fungus living of the dead and decaying plant and grass material in the sward or leaf litter in woodland

Fruitbody: There is no discernible cap on the Pestle Puffball. Instead, it is solid and has an overall pestle-like shape. It starts off dirty white and greys with age. The surface is covered in soft warts, particularly near the top of the fruit body, and these drop of with age. There are no gills and no true stem, but an elongated stem-like appearance to its shape. The fruit can reach 10cm across and 20cm tall, sometime much larger in good conditions.

When mature, the top surface ruptures leaving a bowl-like shape on a stump. The wind then blows the spores out of this bowl

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.
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. 
The Pestle Puffball could be easily confused with other puffballs, but all 18 UK species are edible

Use as a food The Pestle 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 has a slimy consistency and does not have the strongest taste, so it is best turned into a schnitzel, added to mushroom soups as a thickener, or included in dishes with lots of other mushrooms of different textures

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 Pestle 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!