1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Puff-ball

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PUFF-BALL, in botany, the common name for a genus of fungi (known botanically as Lycoperdon), and so called because of the cloud of brown dust-like spores which are emitted when the mature plant bursts. They are common in meadows and woods and on heaths or lawns, and when young resemble white balls, sometimes with a short stalk, and are fleshy in texture. If cut across in this state, they show a compact rind enclosing a loose tissue, in the interspaces of which the spores are developed; as the fungus matures it changes to yellowish-brown and brown and when ripe the rind tears at the apex and the spores escape through the aperture when any pressure is applied to the ball. When white and fleshy the fungus is edible. The fibrous mass which remains after the spores have escaped has been used for tinder or as a styptic for wounds. The giant puff-ball, Lycoperdon giganteum, reaches a foot or more in diameter.