Giant Puffball, Calvatia gigantea, one of the four safe mushrooms to forage, but forager be warned!
There are no foolproof methods for determining edible or poisonous mushrooms. Make sure the interior flesh is pure white, it becomes bitter when it turns yellow. Always discard Puffballs in which the flesh is not white and firm. Your digestive system can be upset when the spores begin to form. Look-a-likes include Pigskin Puffballs that are about the size of a tennis ball. They are dense, tough-skinned, have a black interior, and they are poisonous. Also, Make sure you cut it open to be sure there is no rudimentary stems or gills. Do not eat if you see a pattern of a developing capped mushroom on the interior after you cut it. You could die from eating an amanita (Death Cap or Destroying Angel) button. If you decide to eat this mushroom you are doing it at your own risk. You have been warned!
Western medicine has used Calvatia gigantea as a styptic (to contract tissues or blood vessels), and it was used as a wound dressing. The fungus was harvested prior to battles, and used either in powdered form or as slices 3 cm thick to stop bleeding. Small quantities of an anti-cancer agent called calvacin has been extracted from young fruit-bodies and cultures of the puffball species, and used effectively against tumors.
It was used as a tinder and it has also been used in beekeeping. The fumes of smoldering fruit-bodies were used to calm bees and allow easier access to the hive.
Keep your eyes and ears open and your powder dry!
Giant Puffball Sources:
Fernald, Merritt Lyndon & Alfred Charles Kinsey. Edible Wild Plants of Eastern North America. New York: Dover Publications, Inc. 1996. Print. pg. 401
Fischer, David. Giant, Gem-Studded and Pear-shaped Puffballs Scientific names: Langermannia gigantea, Lycoperdon perlatum, L. pyriforme, and others. American Mushrooms. Web.
Herrick, James William. Iroquois Medical Botany. Ph.D. Thesis, New York: State University of New York, Albany 1977. Print. pg. 98
Landers, David. Giant Puffballs, Calvatia gigantea, Cornell University. October 26, 2006. Web.
Lincoff, Gary H., & Nehring, Carol. Nation Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 1981. Print. pg. 823-824, pl. 647
Moerman Daniel E., Native American Ethnobotany, Portland: Timber Press. 1998. Print. pg. 133
Peterson, Lee Allen. The Peterson Field Guide Series; A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants; Eastern and Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1977. Print. pg. 238-239
Kew Botanica Gardens Calvatia Gigantea”. Retrieved 1 May 2016.