Mosaic Puffball (Lycoperdon Utriforme) Identification

Mosaic Puffball / Summer / Autumn / Edible

Description 

An easy to identify mushroom, they are not overly common in the UK but when conditions are right they can be found in large numbers. They are edible if they are pure white and spongy when cut in half.


Scientific Name

Lycoperdon Utriforme


Common Names

Mosaic Puffball.


Family

Agaricaceae


Habitat

They are saprotrophic and can be found in open pasture, grasslands, and woodland edges.


Identifying Features:

Cap:

The fruiting body is round to pear-shaped and is covered with a mosaic of scales that will fall off with age. They are white to pale brown in colour but will turn browner with maturity.

xulescu_g, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Stem:

No true stem, the base is like an inverted cone and is attached to the soil by means of rhizomorphs (thick, root-like strands of mycelium)

Jerzy Opioła, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Smell:

No real aroma.


Spores:

Olive brown.


Uses

In food

The outer skin of this species can be quite tough so I tend to remove it using a sharp knife before I cook them. Like many puffballs they don’t have the strongest flavour so they are probably best mixed with other stronger tasting mushrooms or my favourite way to eat them is to cut them into bite-sized pieces, dip them into flour, egg and then breadcrumbs and deep fry them as a vegan-friendly ‘chicken nugget’ alternative.

I’ve seen them described as ‘poor man’s sweetbreads’ to give you an idea of the texture and flavour.


Harvesting

Like all puffballs only collect young fruiting bodies that are still white and spongy in the middle.

Wilhelm Zimmerling PAR, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Known hazards

None Known


Potential lookalikes

Other members of the Lycopodium family, all are edible as long as they are still, pure white in the middle.

Death caps (Amanita Phalloides) but these lacks the mosaic pattern on the surface and when cut in half you will see an immature mushroom ready to burst free.

The Common Earthball (Scleroderma Citrinum) they tend to be firmer in texture and when cut in half you will see a mass of purple/black spores.

The Common Stinkhorn (Phallus Impudicus) can also like similar when they are young, these lack the mosaic pattern on the surface and when cut in half will reveal the ‘witches eye’ rather than being pure white.


Extra Notes

The Mosaic Puffball has been found to contain a number of antibacterial compounds that can fight E. coli, Staphylococcus and salmonella to name just a few.

They also bioaccumulate high levels of copper and zinc and may be a valuable source of both trace elements however further research is needed.

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