Today I was invited to a very friendly and kind ladies property to see the giant Fungi which grows in her garden. I can tell you , my mouth felt open by seeing the size of them. These fungi were the biggest Fungi I have seen so far. Their common name is the Giant Puffball fungi.
At the moment there where two in her garden. The white one in the image on the right was rotting. She told me that she kept an eye on them over a few days and that they grew about 2cm a day. This white one which was rotting was about 27 cm in width. There was another one which was totally dried out. When we poked a stick in it , all the spores came out. Some grow in the wood chips and others grow in the grass. I wish I had them in my yard. The white one had a whole where also the spores could escape out of. She told me that people could eat them when they were still little. I found them very fascinating and was so happy that she invited me , so I could have a look and take photo’s. She knows I am a fungi hunter you see ;o))
If she reads this, I want to say ; Thank you so much, I really appreciated it and I had a great time. Also thank you for the cookies and the coffee !!
Here some more information about the Puffballs
The giant puffball cracks open to allow the wind to carry away its spores. Other puffballs have a small opening at the top. The wind may suck spores out of these openings like smoke drawn from a chimney. The spores can also be “puffed” out of the opening when the fruiting body is hit by raindrops Each spore is 3.5 to 5.5 microns in diameter. They are bone dry, making a mature giant puffball a sack of fine powder. The Lakota tribe of Native Americans used this clean dry material in their medicine. They would pack large wounds with puffball spores to slow bleeding and help blood clot. Giant puffballs are found in the central and eastern USA and Canada.
Although Fungi were once considered to be part of the plant kingdom, most experts now consider them to be a separate Kingdom or phylum. There are estimated to be over 100,000 different fungi, most of which form only tiny threads (Hypha) that can only be seen through a microscope. Of these, about 20,000 are considered to be high fungi or macro fungi, i.e. those that produce visible fruiting bodies. Only these are of any interest to the fungi enthusiast and covered in any detail, mostly of which belong to the subdivision Ascomycotina and Basidiomycotina.
Species of fungi are divided into the following three categories
1 – Mycorrhizal fungi form a partnership with some plants,but mostly with living trees.
2 – Parasitic fungi prefer the living host; this category is fairly small.
3 – Saprophytic fungi prefer dead and decaying material.
Mycorrhizal fungi form a partnership mainly with trees but also with some plants, but rather then harming the tree, their presence significantly increases the roots’ effectiveness. Fungi send their hyphae in and about the little rootlets of the tree until its difficult to tell them apart. The tree supplies the mycelium with moisture and carbohydrates, and the mycelium returns the favour with minerals and other nutrients from the surrounding soil. Mycorrhiza fungi are beneficial both in nature and agriculture; plants with them tend to grow better than those without.
Parasitic fungi are the second largest group, of whose members do a lot of serious damage. Rather than obtaining their food from dead animals or plants, they prefer a living host, often attacking and killing, it then living on as a saprophytic fungi.
Saprophytic fungi are the largest group of fungi, they growing on dead organic matter such as fallen trees, cow patties, dead leaves, and even dead insects and animals. These fungi have enzymes that work to “rot” or “digest” the cellulose and lignin found in the organic matter, with the lignin being an important source of carbon for many organisms. Without their digestive activities, organic material would continue to accumulate until the forest became a huge rubbish dump of dead leaves and trees.
Giant Puffball Fungi
The lady stood next to it, so I could take an image to show how big the Fungi was
A closer look at the one which was all dried up and full of spores.
When poking a stick in it, Spores are easily spread. She does not mind as she likes them growing in her garden. I can’t blame her ;o)