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giant puffball

giant puffball (Calvatia gigantea)

Features and Behaviors

The body of a fungus (mycelium) is made up of strands called mycelia. The mycelium grows within the soil, a dead tree or other object and is rarely seen. The fruiting body that produces spores is generally present for only a short period of time but is the most familiar part of the fungus to people. The giant puffball has a white spore case contained in a thin, outer layer that flakes off when maturity is attained. The outer layer is white to white-brown. The spores are yellow to green-brown. The giant puffball may be nearly 20 inches wide and is one of the largest puffballs.

The giant puffball may be found in grassy areas statewide. It grows singly or in a scattered arrangement. Unlike plants, fungi do not have roots, stems, leaves, flowers or seeds. The giant puffball must absorb nutrients and water from the objects it grows in. Spores are produced from late summer through fall. The spores provide a means of reproduction, dispersal and survival in poor conditions. Spore production occurs when conditions are favorable, generally with warm temperatures and ample moisture.

Illinois Range


​Kingdom: Fungi
Phylum: Basidiomycota
Class: Agaricomycetes
Order: Agaricales
Family: Agaricaceae

Illinois Status: common, native