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My wife and I are new to foraging. We recently found a large number of what we believe to be puffballs in a field. They look like this:

Puffball torn in half

From the information on the Wild Food UK site it sounds like even if this is a genuine puffball, as it's gone yellow inside it's no longer edible. However, there were a number of these in field, so potentially some of the younger ones may still be edible, or should we revisit earlier in the season next year, we may catch the next generation at the right time.

Additional information

  • These were found growing in Norfolk, UK.
  • They were in the short grass of a well drained field.
  • The mushrooms were in clusters of 2 to 3.
  • There were several clusters near one another (e.g. each cluster was within 20 cms of another); though not in a ring.
  • They're softer than marshmallows.
  • The white pulpy exterior was solid, though soft.
  • The yellow interior had a paste-like texture.
  • There was no discernible smell (though this is my worst sense, so if there's a subtle smell I'm likely to have missed it).

Looking through the various fungi on First Nature I believe this may be a Lycoperdon pratense; though the images on the site show them as having a more standard mushroom shape, whilst those we found had more of a pear drop shape

Question

Can anyone identify the type of puffball this is, and whether it's edible (or would be edible if found before it had started turning yellow)?

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    Note: NEVER EVER EAT FUNGI THAT YOU CAN NOT POSITIVELY IDENTIFY! If you don't know what one is don't eat it. People die regularly from misidentified fungi. I would not base an identification off a poor single picture on the internet - take it to a local expert, there are a bunch of amateur groups that can help with this sort of thing - the Norfolk Fungus Study Group seems to be your local one. – bob1 Aug 26 '19 at 1:18
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    If you're interested in UK fungi - I'd recommend following John Wright as he really knows his stuff and has written a lot of books on the topic of fungus, he also works with River Cottage for their foraging shows etc. – Aravona Aug 27 '19 at 11:46
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    Hard to see from that picture, but yes, avoid because of the colour - if it is a puffball, it has begun turning into spores. – nsandersen Aug 27 '19 at 20:46
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To be honest, I'm not sure we have enough information here to help you in this case. There are many different kinds of puffballs, some are edible, some are not. Depending on the age they will also vary wildly in their look and consistency, so this makes it even harder.

I can really only recommend two ways to identify mushroom:

Get a decent book

Buy a decent mushroom identification book. These will come with plenty of pictures, and will list identifying features such as colour, texture, surface, form, stems, smell, etc, etc.

Most importantly, these books generally focus on mushrooms which are not easy to mistake for the (seriously) poisonous ones - and/or they will actually list "similar looking" mushrooms, which can help you avoid misidentification.

Ask an expert

In some places (e.g. in Switzerland) there are official mushroom identification offices where you can bring your mushrooms and have them identified by an expert. This is by far the safest method, and should be your method of choice if you cannot positively, 100% identify the mushroom using a book. However, I don't know if such a service is available in the UK.

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