Pear-Shaped Puffball
(Lycoperdon pyriforme)
Pair of Pears
Pear-shaped Puffball sculpture

Pear-Shaped Puffball

sculpture, acrylic paints

Description

This is a small, beige, roundish to pear-shaped puffball 5/8 to 1-3/4 inches across that develops a pore on top when mature, through which the spores escape.

Pear-shaped Puffball

Pear-Shaped Puffball

Note the stringy mycelia comprising the fungus' body.

The puffball begins soft and white inside.

Pear-shaped Puffball, Split

Pear-Shaped Puffball, split lengthwise

Later it becomes yellow-green, and finally dark olive brown inside.
Old Pear-shaped Puffballs

Pear-Shaped Puffballs, mature

Note the hole at each mushroom's tip, for expelling spores.

Under the mushroom's base, the fungus looks like white string.

Look-Alikes

The gem-studded puffball, also a choice edible, resembles this mushroom, but the former is covered with tiny spines and grows on the ground.

Poisonous earthballs (Scleroderma) begin white inside, but they soon turn black, and they're always hard, whereas this puffball is always soft.

Always cut open small puffballs to make sure there are no gills or stem inside, indicating possibly deadly amanitas. However, amanitas grow on the ground. This puffball always grow on dead wood.

Habitat

Look for pear-shaped puffballs on logs and stumps (or emerging from buried portions of stumps), where they may grow in great numbers.

Pear-shaped Puffballs

Pear-Shaped Puffballs Growing on Log

Season

Although this mushroom may appear as early as midsummer, it's more usual from mid- to late fall. They can come up year after year in the same place, until the fungus has used up all the nutrients it needs in the dead wood.

Cooking

This mushroom is a choice edible species. Slice the puffball, sauté it, steam it, or simmer it in soups, like other mushrooms. It has an especially rich taste that you can't drown out with other ingredients. Because of this, you can use the mushroom sparingly and it will still flavor a recipe effectively. It's great for flavoring grains or beans, for example. And it dehydrates well.