Giant mushrooms popped up one night recently in a backyard in Leslie, Michigan, confounding the Delaney family, and impressing plant biologists.
Ed Delaney decided to surprise his wife Amy with a bulbous, fungal mass he’d found out back – Mrs. Delaney explains, “I walked in and his arms were literally filled with this huge, disgusting white mass.” Ed adds, “I had this mushroom the size of two basketballs, and it kind of shocked her.” Amy had been expecting flowers or something, due to the couple’s upcoming anniversary.
Alas, this wasn’t the last of the mushroom intrigue. A few days later, Amy found her own mushroom surprise. These ‘shrooms are a hot topic around the Delaney manor. Madison Gomez, daughter of the Delaneys, said, “I had two of my friends over Friday. I told them about the mushroom, and they, I guess they didn’t believe me. So I showed them and I guess they had second thoughts.” How could one not?
The mushrooms in question are of the Giant puffball variety, Calvatia gigantea, to be exact. Giant puffball mushrooms are commonly found in fields, meadows and deciduous forests worldwide, usually in late summer and autumn. It is common fungus throughout Europe and North America.
Most Giant puffballs grow to be 3.9 to 28 inches in diameter, though some can grow to 59 inches and weigh 44 pounds. Jonathan Walton, Professor of Plant Biology at Michigan State University, said of the Delaney find, “I’ve never seen specimens this big before. It’s pretty impressive, especially when you consider they grow up literally overnight.”
Professor Walton warns against eating the Giant puffballs, because one can never truly be sure exactly when a mushroom’s dangerous fruiting body begins to develop. Walton says that one shouldn’t really even touch strange mushrooms. The fruiting body of a Giant puffball can contain up to several trillion spores. Spores are yellowish, smooth, and 0.00012 to 0.00020 inches in size.
While the Giant puffball is an impressive mushroom, the giant honey mushroom is still the world’s largest organism.
Image via WILX.