Skull-Shaped Puffball
(Calvatia craniformis)
Skull

Skull-Shaped Puffball

sculpture, acrylic paints

Description

This large, whitish to beige, skull-shaped mushroom grows from 3-1/4 to 8 inches across and from 2-3/8 to 8 inches tall.

The inside is soft and white at first. As the spores mature, they become greenish-yellow to yellow brown, and the spore mass persists for a long time.

The mushroom's thick, pointed base connects to the fibrous fungus that penetrates the ground.

Skull-shaped Puffball

Skull-Shaped Puffball

It's difficult to tell this mushroom apart from the immature mushroom apart from the purple-spored puffball, which is also a choice edible, but there are no poisonous look-alikes.

Habitat

This mushroom grows in the woods, especially near oaks, throughout North America.

Season

Look for this mushroom from August to October.

Cooking

This mushroom is a choice edible. Trim away the cuticle (covering) if it's encrusted with dirt, and cut out any bad parts with a paring knife. Try not to wash this mushroom under water, or it will become too soggy to sauté.

Slice the puffball, sauté it, steam it, or simmer it in soups, like other mushrooms. It's also great baked or grilled. It has a rich, savory flavor and a soft texture.

This mushroom doesn't dehydrate well. To store it long-range, cook it and freeze it.