Gail Ruhl, Senior Plant Disease Diagnostician,
Puffballs are a type of mushroom. Spores may be dispersed from
the opening at the top of the puffball, such as seen here in this Lycoperdon
sp. (Figure 4) When young, puffballs are usually white. Fungal ‘root-like’ mycelial
threads (Figure 5) 'attach' puffballs to the ground. The interior
of the puffball is initially solid white, gradually turning yellow,
then brown as the mushroom matures. Finally, the interior changes
to a mass of dark, olive-green to brown powdery spores.
Puffballs can be found growing on the ground or on logs, or stumps
in wooded areas in late summer or fall. Some puffballs are small,
measuring 1 to 3 inches in diameter while others, such as the giant
puffball (Calvatia spp.), measure up to 20 inches in diameter
or more and look like over-inflated volleyballs dotting the landscape
(Figures 1,2 and 3).
Figures 1, 4 and 5: Gail Ruhl, Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, P&PDL
Figures 2 and 3: Barb MacDougall, Indianapolis