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Bovista olivacea: Cooke illustrationTypes of fungal fruiting bodies (or sporocarps):

The Giant Puffball

This fungus is found in many of the world's temperate areas. The fruiting bodies are globose and often reach 30 centimetres or more in diameter at maturity. Initially the outer skin is white but becomes brown with age, cracks and falls away in large flakes to expose the spores, held within a dense, cotton-wool like mass of hyphae. Once exposed, the spores in this 'cotton wool' packing are easily dispersed by the wind. The species name of this fungus is Calvatia gigantea but has been known by a number of other names and those most commonly seen would be Bovista gigantea and Langermannia gigantea.

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Two Giant Puffball specimens, one alongside a regulation-size soccer ball (click to enlarge).

As you can see from the photos the fruiting bodies are quite eye-catching and the rest of this page is devoted to showing some older pictures of the Giant Puffball. First is a drawing of a lad contemplating a Giant Puffball in a field. I have copied it from Burton Longyear's Michigan Mushrooms (published in 1903 by the Agricultural College, Michigan).



This photograph click to view shows a number of specimens in a Swedish field and amongst these photos click to view are two showing a number of specimens in a semi-arid area of Colorado. The following photograph shows a very large specimen and here click to view is a photograph of another girl who is cleaning a Giant Puffball.

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Click to enlarge

Finally, does this photo click to view show a serving suggestion?