Giant Puffball

A giant puffball grows in our back yard every fall. When I first noticed it, it had just emerged from the ground and was the size of a baby’s fist. (September 26)

By October 1, just 5 days later, it was the size of a brain. We let it get a little bigger (3 more day’s worth of growth), and then picked it.

The consistency of the raw mushroom is like an especially dense, moist marshmallow. And there looks to be no circulatory system — they’re just solid white.

They were very good cooked — kind of like mozzarella sticks, melty and creamy. We also seared and froze some for later.

They’re edible only when young (when the inside is still pure white). Mature ones are greenish brown inside. All the spores are inside there — can be trillions of spores inside a single puffball. Native. Lycoperdaceae family.

Giant Puffball (Calvatia gigantea)

Lone sentinel down

Before it was conservation land, Charles River Peninsula was a meadow where dairy cattle grazed, and this shagbark hickory stood at the top of the rise overlooking the scene. A big limb came down previously and revealed that it was partly hollow … so it was not a surprise and yet, a very sad sight to see that a September windstorm had taken it down. 

Someone had tucked wildflowers into the gash… Below, the scene last summer. We’ll miss it.

Poison Ivy

I never got a good shot of the poison ivy when it was in bloom. But now it’s really drawing attention to itself with color. Many songbirds eat the seeds and fruit. Bears, rabbits and deer eat the foliage with apparent immunity–in fact only hamsters and primates are known to have allergic reactions to it! Of course, it is identifiable by its three leaves, regardless of other variables– it can be a shrub, a trailing or a climbing vine. The poison is urushiol, a compound found in the sap. Urushiol oil can still be active for years after the plant is dead, so an old vine is still poisonous. Also, mangoes are in the same family, and people who are sensitive to poison ivy can have a similar reaction to mangoes. Jewelweed is a natural remedy for poison ivy. Native. Virtually unknown in Europe. Anacardiaceae family.

Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans)