Observation 169278: Scleroderma Pers.

When: 2014-07-08

Collection location: Half Moon Bay, California, USA [Click for map]

37.49°N 122.46°W 8m [Click for map]

Who: Ray HMB

Specimen available

Found growing near base of Catalina Ironwood tree and at base of worm compost bin. Thought it was an old potato that did not make it into the main compost bin 5 feet away. It was attached by roots when I picked it up. Looks like a potato with a small 1" diameter pedestal with fine white roots. Has cleavage on top. Has smooth skin texture of a mushroom. Is 3″×2.25″×2″High. Feels solid, weighs 110g. Coastal exposure within 2 blocks of beach. Mostly shade. Temperatures generally 50’s to mid 60’s F.

Is it a truffle, mushroom, or ?


This is an identical but smaller one

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Add Comment
Not a truffle, Ray.
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2014-07-08 19:25:33 CDT (-0400)

Close, though. This is a thick-skinned poison puffball. A Scleroderma. If you cut it in two through the basal collection of rhizimes, it should have a thickening near the base, plus an interior with marbled purple to black interior (gleba). Quite common. Should be considered poisonous until proven otherwise (don’t try eating this!). It caused the death of a 110-pound pot-bellied pig in Vancouver, WA in 1993. Pig and human physiology similar enough that a similar sized human would end up the same way.

The good(?) news is you probably couldn’t keep it down, anyway. Projectile vomiting and violently expelling the sporocarp ingested from all orifaces generally starts within 3 hour after ingestion, if you could keep it down that long. I have two friends who accidently consumed it, an had no ill-effects after the violent vomiting episode. I would try to save anyone else that experience.

It concentrates heavy metals, and is a possible bioaccumulator for radioactive waste.

Truffles are typically hypogeous (underground) while Sclerodermas are at least partially epigeous (above ground). The thick peridium (rind) largely give this away.

Created: 2014-07-08 18:56:03 CDT (-0400)
Last modified: 2014-07-08 18:58:59 CDT (-0400)
Viewed: 35 times, last viewed: 2020-09-08 22:20:50 CDT (-0400)
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