Puffball mushrooms benefits and side effects

Puffball mushrooms

Know in one minute about Puffball mushrooms

  • Puffball mushrooms are mostly edible mushrooms with enclosed fruiting bodies.
  • On maturity, the fruit bodies burst and release the spores which appear like clouds of dust.
  • There is no stalk or stem present in the true puffball mushrooms.
  • Only young fruit bodies of puffballs are considered edible.
  • The mature puffball undergoes an autolysis process, therefore they are not for edible purposes.

Note: This article on Puffball mushrooms is for informational purposes only. We do not recommend eating this mushroom without conducting thorough research and consulting a qualified expert.


Puffball mushrooms are fungi 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 engaged mycorrhizal. Commonly grown in forest soil, in grassland or on rotting woods. There are many species of puffball mushrooms are 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).


Kingdom Fungi
Division Basidiomycota
Class  Agaricomycetes
Order Agaricales
Family Agaricaceae
Genus Calavatia


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 on the 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.

Medicinal benefits of Puffball mushroom

1. Antioxidant activity

The extract of Handkea utriformis, Handkea excipuliformis and Vascellum pratense species of puffball mushroom shows the highest antioxidant activity for free radicals that damages the body tissue. The flavonoid content shows the highest antioxidant and Fe³⁺ reducing ability (1).

2. Antimicrobial activity and Antifungal activity.

The extract of  Handkea excipuliformis puffball mushroom shows antimicrobial activity against the Listeria monocytogenes (1).

Bovistella radicata a type of Puffball mushroom shows great antimicrobial activity against T. rubrum, T. mentagrophytes, S. aureus and P. aeruginosa (2).

3. Anti-diabetic effect

One of the studies on rats demonstrates the anti-diabetic effects of Calavatia gigantea. The extract of Calavatia gigantea is helpful to reduce the blood sugar level, therefore it can be used as an anti-diabetic agent (4).

4. Effect on cancerous cell

The extract of Calvatia gigantea contains the bioactive compound calvacin. A 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

Common name of Calvatia gigantea is giant puffball .


Langermannia gigantea (Batsch ex pers ) Rostk.

Bioactive compound present

The mature fruiting bodies are in-debile but rich in bioactive compounds, such as flavonoids, fatty acids, amino acids, steroid saponins, alkaloids, sesquiterpenes, polysaccharides, proteins and peptides (2).

Nutritional value

The puffball mushrooms ( Calvatia gigantea) is a rich source of carbohydrate (51.97%), fatty acids (67.93%) and proteins (34.37%) (3).

Medicinal benefits

  • A bioactive compound steroid saponins of puffball mushroom shows 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).

Side Effects of Puffball Mushroom

There are no such serious side effects of puffball mushrooms if the young fruit body is consumed in fewer amounts. But the mature puffball 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).


How to cook a puffball mushroom?

  •  Simply cut them into slices. Then saute them in butter with chopped onion and garlic, and add salt and a pinch of black pepper. Serve it with bread or any other dish.
  •  Prepare a mixture of all-purpose flour with salt, black pepper and egg mix well.
  • Cut the mushroom into slices and dip them into the mixture. Now dip these slices into breadcrumbs. Now fry these slices until it turns brown.

2. How to prepare a puffball mushroom?

The best way to prepare the puffball mushroom is to clean it with water to remove dust and then dry it with clean clothes.

Now cut the mushroom into slices or into small pieces as per the preparation.

For soup preparation: Cut the mushroom into small pieces. Now in a pan, put 1-2 tablespoons of oil, and heat it. Add 1 finely chopped onion and garlic, and cook it at low flame, till it turns brown.

Now add the pieces of mushroom, black pepper and salt. Mix it well and cook it for 5-10 minutes at medium flame. Add 1 cup of flour and mix it well, and 2 cups of water.

Cook it for 5 minutes or till the mixture becomes thick. Add some cream and mix it well. Garnish the soup with parsley or coriander leaves.

3. How to cook a giant puffball mushroom?

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 omellette:

Cut the giant puffball mushroom into pieces, now finely chopped or roughly grind it in a grinder. In a bowl add 1 cup of roughly grind mushroom, salt, a 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, and 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.

4. Where to find a puffball mushroom?

Commonly found in temperate regions. In the deciduous forests, meadows and fields of the Central and eastern parts of North America.

5. How to grow a puffball mushroom?

The puffball mushrooms are grown in soil and decaying wood.

  • To grow the puffball, firstly keep the mushroom in a jar filled with water, chlorine, a pinch of salt and molasses.
  • With the help of a knife create pores in the mushroom so that spores come out in the solution.
  • Keep the solution as it is for 2-3 days. Now put the mixture in the selected area to grow the mushroom.

Written By: Neetu Ladiya