Monday, October 14, 2013

Desert Shaggy Mane

The desert shaggy mane mushroom (Podaxis pistillaris) or "black powderpuff" is actually a type of puffball. Open it up and, depending on the ripeness, it will either be filled with thick white goo or erupt in a cloud of dark spores. These began popping up in gravel along Highway 17 after monsoon rains at the end of July this year. Sadly, they are reported as being inedible not due to toxins, but because they are just plain foul-tasting, as well as tough and woody. However, if you are truly desperate, or just curious, munching on an immature stalked puffball won't kill you.  This species is common in desert regions around the world. Australian aborigines have used the spores mixed with water for body paint and the dry spores for hair dye.

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