Giant puffball Calvatia gigantea* is considered a common mushroom, but you wouldn’t guess that by most people’s astonished reaction to finding one. These things are dramatically huge, from grapefruit sized up to four feet across–most of the ones I’ve seen were mistaken for deflated volleyballs at first. It used to be assumed that giant puffballs grew from a fungus feeding on decomposing matter in the soil, but current mycology seems to be leaning toward the fungus being symbiotic with the roots of certain grasses. People who like to eat things they find outside get very excited when they find one of these. If you cut one in half, and there is no color or texture, just a white homogenous mass, then it is safe to eat. Some also claim these are delicious, but I have yet to prove it myself. So far my experiments have yielded a dish with the texture of french toast but with the unmistakeable earthiness of mushroom.

* “Bald giant”


Radically Diverse Australian Fungi Photographed by Steve Axford

Photographer Steve Axford (previously) continues his quest to document some of the world’s most obscure fungi found in locations around Australia. Axford lives and works in the Northern Rivers area of New South Wales in Australia where he often has to travel no further than his own back yard to make some of the discoveries you see here. The forms of fungi, slime molds, and lichens he prefers to document seem to have no limit in their diverse characteristics. Axford explained when we first featured his work last year that he suspects many of the tropical species he stumbles onto are often completely undocumented. You can follow more of Axford’s discoveries on Flickr and SmugMug. Thanks Colossal

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Posted by Andrew