What is a Wolf-fart?


I recorded these video during a morning walk with my trusty companion – Kais. This is only the third 50 degree day so far this year, so there are not many mushrooms out yet. There are, however, a number of species that are left over from last fall. One of them is a small puffball that resembles an upside down pear as it grows – hence the name “Pear Shaped Puffball.”

Most puffballs grow on the ground, but these puffballs are one of the few species that grow on wood. I have only seen this puffball growing on trees that are well along their way in the decomposition process. Not on lumber that has been recently fell.

Several of the key characteristics of this mushroom are its size. The large part of a pear is rarely larger than a nickel in size.  Also, many books refer to these puffballs having very small nodules or spikes on the outer skin early in their life, often quickly wearing off, making the puffball appear smooth for the rest of the season. I normally only see them with a smooth outer skin.  Something else to look for are prominent mycelial  threads around the base of the clusters. They are pictured below:

Pear Shaped Puffball Mycelia

Pear Shaped Puffball Mycelia

There are not many lookalikes to this mushroom, making it very easy to identify. During the fall, if you cut or tear the mushroom open, it should be white, and have the texture of a marshmallow. If it is any other color than a bright white, then it is not good to eat.

But the title of this article talks about wolfs farting? What gives?

Going a little more in depth, the scientific name for this mushroom is Lycoperdon pyriforme.  In Latin, Lyco=Wolf and perdon=”burst of wind,” with the latter name pyriforme meaning “pear shaped.” This is one of the most common puffballs in the woods, so you should be able to find it often if you are looking.  The weather is getting better every day, so the mushrooms will not be that far off!