Gem Studded Puffball, also known as the Common Puffball, the Warted Puffball, and my personal favorite…The Devil’s Snuff Box. It goes by many common names, but they are all referring to Lycoperdon perlatum. As discussed in an article about a puffball relative, Wild Edibles: Spiny Puffball Mushroom (A Wolf Fart), Lycoperdon is Latin for “wolf fart.” Probably because of how the puffball spreads spores by sending out a puff of smoke-like poofiness from the top of the bulbous cap when mature. Perlatum means “of record,” “common” or “widespread.” So I guess it could be called the “common everyday wolf fart mushroom.”
As you can see from the photo, the Gem Studded Puffball is quite studded with wart looking protrusions (bumps or “gems”) from the cap, giving it the appearance of a horny toad (meaning “with horns,” not like “get off my leg”).
Any puffball that you intend to eat should be cut in half from top to bottom prior to cooking and eating. The interior should be a contiguous fluffy white mass of flesh with absolutely no appearance of gills, or the outline of a young mushroom shape. Just like me…fluffy, white, and no gills?!?
- If you find the outline of a juvenile mushroom, or the presence of gills, or anything other than plain continuous white flesh, then you likely have a poisonous Amanita.
- If the inside is yellowed, brown or olive colored, then don’t eat it, because the puffball is too old, and will jack up your stomach like a football bat.
Poisonous Look Alike:
The following is an example of a look alike to puffball mushrooms (except that it does not have warts, bumps or spikes, and when you cut it open it is obviously not any kind of puffball):
In the picture above it is easy to see the gills, and the outline of a mushroom shape inside of the egg shaped shroom ball. If you ate this mistaking it for a puffball after reading this article, then your death would be what is scientifically referred to as Natural Selection because you needed to be taken out of the breeding pool. It is so easy to avoid this type of look alike by simply cutting open the mushroom to inspect. If you are not 100% sure, then pitch it and move on.
However, prior to cutting into this mushroom, it has the appearance of a puffball-like shape, and color.
For the reason presented in the pictures above, I always cut open puffball mushrooms, no matter how sure I am of my external identification to ensure that I’ve got a puffball, and not a button form of Death Cap, or Destroying Angel.
Where to Find the Gem Studded Puffball:
There is a reason why this puffball is referred to sometimes as the “common” puffball. It can be found throughout most of the world, including Australia, Japan, North America from Alaska to Central America, Europe, Asia, on and on and on.
Gem Studded Puffballs will grow in wooded places, grassy areas, and along roads. It can grow singularly (which is how I usually find it) or in clusters. They are saprophytic, so they grow on decaying wood, etc. The pictured puffballs were found on tree stumps, or other decomposing hardwood in a mature stand of oak and pine.
When to Find the Gem Studded Puffball:
From what I’ve read, the Gem Studded Puffball mushroom makes a bumpy headed appearance between late spring through early fall (whatever that is in your area).
As with most other mushrooms, its always a good idea to go looking right after a good steady rain.
I shouldn’t need to tell you not to eat things that you can’t identify, but don’t eat things you can’t identify. That’s a pretty good rule to live by. This article is for entertainment purposes only. I’m just some fat redneck who enjoys the outdoors, and even though I haven’t died eating lots of stuff from “the wild,” my article(s) should not be used as a means to keep you from dying. Therefore, use multiple sources of information from reputable sources to aid in identifying anything that you decide to eat from the wild.