Stump Puffball - Lycoperdon pyriforme

Main features

  • Fruit body has no true cap or gills

  • Fruit body resembles inverted pestle or pear

  • Top of fruit body spherical

  • Can reach 4cm across

  • Up to 4cm tall

  • White skin with very small pyramidal warts all over the surface that drop off quite quickly

  • 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

  • Grows on rotting wood

  • Fruit bodies often tightly packed together

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Stump Puffball - Lycoperdon pyriforme

Edible mushroom - novice

Other common names: Pear Puffball, Perr-Shaped 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 Pyriforme comes from the Latin Pirum, meaning pear
 

Season - when will I find it? Summer to early Winter
 

Habitat - where will I find it? Gorwing on dead and decaying wood, including buried wood

Description - what does it look like? 

Growth: The Stump Puffball is a saprobic fungus living of the dead and decaying wood. It is most often found in tightly packed groups of fruit bodies

Fruitbody: There is no discernible cap on the Stump Puffball. Instead it is solid and shaped like an inverted pestle of pear. It is white with small pyramidal warts covering its surface that drop off quite early in its growth. There are no gills. The fruit can reach 4cm across and 4cm 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: Olive 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 Stump 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 Stump 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" if the are still present in young specimens.
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 Stump Puffball's spores have been used to relieve chaffing 

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 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 Stump 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!