Strange giant found in Tokoroa paddock
When a large white object appeared in the grass of a Tokoroa woman’s farm she thought one of her cows had given birtha closer look revealed something completely unexpected.
Vanessa Mcfarland was shocked to see not a newly born calf but a massive white calvatia gigantea or as it’s more commonly known a giant puffball.
‘‘I thought because there was a cow in there that was just about to calf it must have been that so I sent my eldest boy Zaid down to have a look,’’ she said.
‘‘I never thought it would be a puffball, I’ve never seen one this big. It was around 50cm across and weighed about 5 kilograms.’’
‘‘It was just growing in the grass with nothing else around it. It was very odd,’’ she said.
She said she has no idea how the giant puffball came to be growing in the paddock.
‘‘We have lived on this farm for about four years and in Tokoroa for eight and have never come across one this big before,’’ she said.
‘‘We get urea put on the grass but I don’t think the paddock has been fertilised for quite a while and as far as I know the neighbours have never come across anything like this either.’’
While giant puffballs can be eaten, as long as their interior is solid white and doesn’t have the silhouette of a cap-type mushroom which poisonous varieties have, Mcfarland said she wasn’t keen.
‘‘I don’t think I am game enough,’’ she laughed.
‘‘I don’t know what I’m going to do with it but I’m sure the boys would love to destroy it.’’
New Zealand mushroom expert Doctor Ian Hall, who founded Truffles and Mushrooms (Consulting) Limited which advises internationally on methods for the cultivation of truffles and other ectomycorrhizal mushrooms, said although giant puffballs are unusual they are not uncommon in New Zealand.
He said they are usually found in paddocks in late summer and autumn.
‘‘They were most likely unintentionally brought to New Zealand by settlers and they are found all around the country,’’ he said.
‘‘The largest one I have ever seen was nearly a metre across.’’
‘‘I shouldn’t say it but they taste a lot better than the rubbery mushrooms from the supermarket,’’ he laughed.
From left Mitchell, Zaid, and Blake Mcfarland with the giant puffball found on their Tokoroa farm.