Know in one minute about Puffball mushroom
Puffball is a fungus belonging to the basidiomycota division having enclosed ball-shaped fruiting bodies with white gleba that becomes a brown powdery mass of spores on maturity. They are known to be a polyphyletic assemblage. These mushrooms are mostly saprotrophic, but some are mycorrhizal. Commonly grown in the forest soil, in the grassland or on the rotting woods. There are many species of puffball mushrooms found around the world. Various species of puffball mushrooms ( Calvatia, Handkea, Lycoperdon, Vascellum and gigantea )are considered edible when their fruiting bodies are young and spores are not developed (1).
The puffball mushroom has an enclosed cap, white in colour. Spores are produced inside the fruiting bodies. Upon maturity of spores, they form gleba at the centre of the fruit body. Gills are absent. Spores are released from the basidia. The puffball mushrooms without visible stalks or stems are true puffballs. Stalked puffballs are tough, woody and bitter in taste, therefore they are inedible. Young puffballs have undifferentiated white flesh.
The giant puffball mushroom is 10- 50 cm in diameter. Young puffball is white inside whereas mature puffball is greenish brown from inside. Spores are 3 – 5 μm in size, yellowish and smooth, and produced inside the fruiting bodies. The spore print is brown.
Note: Giant puffball looks similar to the Scleroderma citrinum (earthball), which is a poisonous fungus responsible for mild intoxication.
The extract of Handkea utriformis, Handkea excipuliformis and Vascellum pratense species of puffball mushroom shows the highest antioxidant activity for free radicals that damage the body tissue. The flavonoid content shows the highest antioxidant and Fe³⁺ reducing ability (1).
Antimicrobial activity and Antifungal activity
The extract of Handkea excipuliformis pufball mushroom shows antimicrobial activity against the Listeria monocytogenes (1). The chloroform, aether and ethyl acetate extract of puffball mushroom (Bovistella radicata) show great antimicrobial activity against T. rubrum, T. mentagrophytes, S. aures and P. aeruginosa (2). The PBR- 1 AND PBR- 2 are the compound which is present in the highest concentration in the extract of puffball mushroom and inhibit the growth of pathogenic microbes T. rubrum and T. mentagrophytes (2).
One of the studies on rats demonstrates the anti-diabetic effects of Calavatia gigantea. The extract of Calvatia gigantea is helpful in reducing the blood sugar level, therefore it can be used as an anti-diabetic agent (4).
Effect on cancerous cell
The extract of Calvatia gigantea contains calvacin ( a bioactive compound). The small dose of calvacin inhibits the growth of cancer cells. When the extract is used against human lung cancer, it results in the inhibition of cell division and proliferation, ultimately leading to the death of the cancerous cell (5).
Common name of Calvatia gigantea is giant puffball .
Langermannia gigantea (Batsch ex pers) Rostk.
Bioactive compound present
The mature fruiting bodies are indebile but rich in bioactive compounds, such as flavonoids, fatty acids, amino acids, steroid saponins, alkaloids, sesquiterpenes, polysaccharides, proteins and peptides (2).
The puffball mushrooms ( Calvatia gigantea) is a rich source of carbohydrate (51. 97%), fatty acids (67. 93 %) and proteins (34.37 %) (3).
A bioactive compound steroid saponins of puffball mushrooms show antibacterial and antifungal activity against pathogens Trichophyton rubrum and Trichophyton mentagrophytes. Trichophyton rubrum ( dermatophytic fungus) is responsible for various infections such as athlete’s foot and jock itch, Trichophyton mentagrophytes is also responsible for causing many skin-related diseases in humans. The steroid nucleus is present in the steroid, due to damage to the membrane there is leakage of cellular material, which results in the death of the fungus (2).
The powder or slices of giant puffballs are used as a styptic for wound dressing. It decreases the blood flow/ bleeding by the contraction of tissue and heals the wound (6).
There are no such serious side effects of puffball mushrooms if the young fruit body is consumed in fewer amounts. If the mature puffball is consumed it may result in stomach upset.
The young fruiting bodies of puffball mushrooms are edible when the spires are not developed, but after maturity, they are inedible because of their autolysis (1).
1. Is the giant puffball mushroom edible?
Ans. Puffball mushrooms are mostly edible mushrooms with enclosed fruiting bodies. On maturity, the fruit bodies burst and release spores which appears like cloud of dust. The puffball mushrooms with stems are false puffballs, which are inedible. Only young fruit bodies of the puffball are considered edible. The mature puffball undergoes an autolysis process, therefore they are not for edible purposes.
2. How poisonous are puffballs?
Ans. There are no such serious side effects of puffball mushrooms if the young fruit body is consumed in fewer amounts. If the mature puffball is consumed it may result in stomach upset. Hence, puffballs are not poisonous if consumed fresh.
3. Are giant puffballs tasty?
Yes, giant puffballs are tasty, these mushrooms are rich, earthy and nutty in taste.
4. How to cook a giant puffball mushroom?
Ans. Giant puffball mushroom is rich in nutrients with a nutty flavour. It can be used for many preparations such as soup, fried puff balls or just sauteed into a pan with oil or butter, onion, black pepper and salt, and served with bread or meat.
Giant puffball omelette
Cut the giant puffball mushroom into pieces, now finely chopped it or roughly grind it in a grinder. In a bowl add 1 cup of roughly grind mushroom, salt, pinch of black pepper, 1 cup coriander leaves and 2 medium eggs, beat the mixture properly. In a pan put one tablespoon of butter or oil, heat it now, pour the above mixture and spread it slowly. Cook the omelette on both sides. The giant puffball omelette is ready to serve.
5. Can you eat giant puffball mushrooms?
Ans. The young fruiting bodies for puffball mushrooms are edible when the spires are not developed, but after maturity, they are inedible because of their autolysis.