Strange giant found in Toko­roa pad­dock

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - LUKE KIRKEBY

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.

LUKE KIRKEBY/ FAIRFAX NZ

From left Mitchell, Zaid, and Blake Mcfar­land with the giant puff­ball found on their Toko­roa farm.

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