Pigskin Earthball

By William T. Hathaway

Pigskin Earthball (Scleroderma citrinum)

This species (Scleroderma citrinum) resembles a true puffball but belongs to a special group of fungi known as earthballs. Thick, rindlike and spotted skin distinguishs it from other true puffballs. Slice it open with a knife and the purplish-black spore mass confirms its identity.

This member of the earthball fungi is poisonous, but not deadly. Experts say that eating pigskin puffballs will cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea — followed by cold sweats.

While hiking through woodlands in July thru November, enjoy the fact that you may now know the name of that warted, thick-skinned, yellow-brown ball with a small opening at the top. Another bit of knowledge is added to your mental compendium of nature lore.