The Gem-Studded Puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum) is a fungus that is found throughout the world and has been reported on every continent except Antarctica. In North America, it is found from the sub-arctic down to Mexico and into Central America. It is found growing on the ground where it breaks down decaying organic matter.
|A cluster of Gem-Studded Puffballs at Forest Hill Nature Area|
Gem-studded Puffballs can be found in woodlands, grasslands, and lawn. They will grow anywhere there is enough organic matter to provide food and enough water to survive. They often grow in large clusters and can form "fairy rings" over time.
Gem-studded puffballs can be found from summer into fall. The puffballs in these photographs were found in early October. They do not reach the size of some other puffballs such as the Giant Puffball (Calvatia gigantea) which often reach sizes of 12 to 24 inches but can grow much larger.
|A Giant Puffball with baseball cap for size comparison|
Individual Gem-studded Puffballs can reach a size of three inches by three inches. They are white colored but become yellow-brown with age. They are covered with raised bumps or "gems".
They are edible when young but care must be taken not to confuse the with Amanita Mushrooms which can be deadly if eaten. I personally do not like to eat most mushrooms, but I would never eat any wild mushroom unless it has been identified by an expert. This is a good rule for any wild food, never eat anything in the wild that you cannot identify with 100% certainty.
|A close-up of Gem-Studded Puffballs|
|A young Amanita mushroom for comparison|
Size: to 3” wide, to 3” tall
Habitat: woodlands, roadsides, suburban areas
Color: white, ageing to yellow-brown
Time Found: summer – fall