How to Identify an Earth Ball Mushroom

Written by aaron marquis
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How to Identify an Earth Ball Mushroom
Poisonous mushrooms such as Earth balls can be deadly to animals and humans. (earth balls image by hazel proudlove from Fotolia.com)

To some, a mushroom is a delectable food that tastes great steamed, fried, or baked. However, if do not plan to buy your mushrooms in the grocery store, you need to brush up on your mushroom knowledge. The Earth ball mushroom looks similar to most mushrooms in appearance, but is very poisonous. You can identify the mushroom by a variety of observable characteristics.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Look at the dome of the mushroom (commonly referred to as the "fruiting body"). Earth ball mushrooms are white or yellowish in colour and are covered in scales. Unlike other common mushrooms, the surface of Earth ball mushrooms is not smooth.

  2. 2

    Measure the distance across the mushroom. Common diameter lengths for Earth ball mushrooms fall between 4 and 10 centimetres. If the mushroom at which you are looking is very tiny or extremely large, it may not be an Earth ball.

  3. 3

    Examine the stalk of the mushroom. If it is an Earth ball variety, it should be relatively thick in comparison to other mushrooms. The stalk is usually short, keeping the fruiting body of the mushroom close to the ground.

  4. 4

    Break open the mushroom and look at its contents. The spores within the fruiting body of Earth ball mushrooms are initially whitish in appearance, but quickly turn purple or black. If the centre of the mushroom is a purplish colour, and the colour extends outward to the edges of the inside, you may have an Earth ball mushroom.

  5. 5

    Look at the soil around you. Earth ball mushrooms thrive in "heathland," which contains very acidic soil with limited nutrients. This soil is found in North America and Europe. If the land is sandy, or sparse of vegetation, an Earth ball can subsist in the area.

Tips and warnings

  • Do not eat Earth ball mushrooms. The mushrooms are poisonous to mammals and can cause extreme sickness.

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