Sunday, December 1, 2013
My greatest excitement today was finding this stalked puffball, Battarrea diguettii, on my morning walk. This is a new species for my "life list," and the second type of stalked puffball I've seen growing around Phoenix. It's a wonder that the neighborhood isn't covered with these strange fungi, as the spores must number in the billions from just this one specimen. This and other members of the genus Battarrea have lots of folk names: sandy stiltball, desert drumstick and donkey fungus are the most common. A close relative of this species, Battarrea phalloides, has been found all over the world, from Africa and Oahu to Uruguay, where none other than Charles Darwin collected specimens in 1833. Diguettii is distinguished by the pores on the cap that release the powdery spores, and is endemic to the Mojave and Sonoran deserts of North America.