Mushroom Hunters Club

This page is used to feature mushrooms that are prevalent for the particular time of the year or, during the winter months, to feature some of the less desirable or hard to find mushrooms. To see some of our previous stars follow this link to an index of previously featured mushrooms.

                  November's Mushroom of the Month

Lycoperdon perlatum: 

The Gem-Studded Puffball


The gem-studded puffball is a very common mushroom in Michigan woods in the summer and fall.  This mushroom can grow singly and scattered, but sometimes it can be found in large clusters.  Opinions vary widely about its taste, Arora in Mushrooms Demystified considers it bland at best and bitter at worst, Phillips in Mushrooms and Other Fungi of North America considers the taste to be excellent, and Lincoff in The Audubon Guide calls the taste choice.  I like the flavor of this mushroom, but I don’t care for its consistency; that of a marshmallow.  When I have found it in quantities, I have made cream of mushroom soup with mixed wild mushrooms.

The white fruiting body is round to pear-shaped with a rudimentary stalk composed of sterile cells.  The cap ranges from 1 to 2 ½ inches (2.5 to 6.25 cm) wide and 1 ¼ to 3 inches tall.  The top and sides of the mushroom are covered with longer and shorter spines which easily break off leaving a web-like pattern.  When mature, a pore forms at the top center of the mushroom through which the spores escape.  The flesh (spore mass) is white when immature, becoming yellow brown then olive brown at full maturity.

These mushrooms are only edible when the flesh is completely white.  As soon as a trace of discoloring appears the mushrooms become bitter.  I checked through Hope Miller’s cookbook, Hope’s Mushroom Cookbook. This book is organized by a list of 25 Mushrooms or groups of mushrooms.  At the end of each recipe there is a list of the mushrooms from the 25 groups that can be used in the recipe.  In the general recipe section there are only two recipes that allow puffballs: Spanish Chicken and Spaghetti with Vegetables.  These two recipes specify that all of the mushroom on the list can be used.  Many recipes, especially for soups, specify all mushrooms on the list except puffballs.  In the final section: Favorite Wild Mushroom Recipes, Hope gives a recipe for puffball parmesan which I believe is only for the giant puffball and a recipe for puffball chips which uses smaller puffballs like Lycoperdon perlatum.  There also is a recipe for mushroom loaf with a note that it is also good with chopped puffballs.



     Photo Credit: Daniel Ullrich