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Giant puffball mushrooms can reach the size of footballs, according to Sussex Wildlife Trust

Giant puffball by Neil Fletcher

Giant puffball by Neil Fletcher

There is a mushroom so big, it can reach the size of a football.

It is of couse none other than the giant puffball mushroom and people out in the Sussex countryside may have spotted them during a warm wet September and October.

According the Sussex Wildlife Trust, the fruitbody of this fungus is so huge, that from a distance it has even been mistaken for a sleeping sheep.

The wildlife charity shared these interesting facts about the giant puffball:

Found in grassy habitats including wood edges, fields, lawns, golf courses and parks, these fungi produce massive fruitbodies, often the size of footballs and sometimes much larger. The largest British specimen ever measured was 162 cm in circumference

They start off white, the flesh discolours to yellow and then pale olive-brown with a matt, velvety surface that is somewhat like kid leather to the touch

when mature trillions of microscopic spores emerge as the outer wall cracks open, often in response to rain drops or physical disturbance by animals or humans.

In the past giant puffballs were used medicinally to reduce bleeding and for wound dressing. The anti-cancer agent calvacin has also been isolated from young fruitbodies.

Once used for tinder and also in beekeeping – fumes from smouldering fruitbodies placed beneath the hive calm the bees and allow easier access to the hive for the beekeeper.

Visit www.sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk or alternatively if you have a wildlife query ring Sussex Wildlife Trust’s information hotline - WildCall - on 01273 494777.

 

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