Puffball Mushroom Identification and Foraging Guide

People often encounter these pillowy treasures long past their prime, when stepping on one will yield a delightful eruption of spores careening in all directions.

If you want to eat a puffball, you’ll need to find one before this “smoke bomb” stage. Read on to discover how to identify fresh puffball mushrooms in the field and learn about some common look-alikes to avoid on your journey.

How to Identify Puffball Mushrooms

While classifying them can be challenging, puffballs themselves are delightful and easy to identify.


Puffballs are adorable, but it’s important to remember that they aren’t shaped like most other mushrooms. They have no cap or pored underside but instead sport a rotund fruiting body without distinct zones.


Puffballs are round, globular, or shaped like an upside-down pear. They can be white, pale gray, or brownish, with some species featuring scales or lines of darker pigmentation.


The flesh of a specimen in its prime will be solid and pure white when you cut into it. There aren’t any exceptions to this rule.

Pore surface

There isn’t one! Instead of a pore surface, puffballs have millions (or trillions) of spores inside the fruiting body.


Puffballs do not have a true stalk. However, certain species taper down and appear short and stem-like toward the ground.

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