Giant puffball mushroom grows in Virginia Peek’s yard each year

Published 12:38 pm Thursday, September 29, 2022

Mrs. Virginia Peek is quite familiar with growing flowers, but each year one or two giant puffball mushrooms appear in the yard of her home, located on the Old Erwin Highway in West Carter County.
“They grow there in the same place every year…near the woods,” she said.
She said they re-appear in the same place each year. They usually fruit in late summer to early fall. Young giant puffballs have a white, fleshy interior. They become brown and discolored when past their prime and ready to release spores.
During her research of the puffball mushroom, Peek learned there is more to the puffball than meets the eye. They are large, mostly rounded mushrooms that really look like volleyballs or golfballs laying around in the yard or a field.
Most puffballs grow in meadows, lawns, or other grassy areas which accentuates their ball-like appearance. It’s easy to think someone left a big white ball in a field or lawn. Upon closer inspection, you can see the white thing is not an inanimate object, but is actually growing from the ground.
Peek said she learned they have a long history as a food source for some peoples around the world, and are usually seared, sautéed, or dried to be added to soups. Although, she has not tasted them, Peek said she read they are rather bland, and need a lot of flavoring.
When they are young, they are white, then turn olive brown as they mature.
It’s not unusual for the puffball to grow four to eight inches tall and three to 10 inches wide.
In earlier times we read they were reportedly used in Native American folk medicine to treat bleeding and prevent infection.
Giant puffballs are white with firm white flesh inside. If they are yellowish or brown, it means that it is about to or has gone to spore, and is not edible anymore.

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