Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sandy Stiltball

I got really excited earlier this month when one of my boys and i found ourselves surrounded by tall, shaggy-stemmed mushrooms in a rocky desert landscape.  When you walk the hinterland a fair bit and suddenly find something completely new to your experience, it is such a thrill.

Battarrea phalloides, with the cool common name of "sandy stiltball", can be over 15 inches tall, and the specimens we found ranged from barely emerging above the surface, to 11-12 inches tall.  There were about 30 sandy stiltball specimens around a small field between the golf course and Portales soccer fields.

Sandy stiltball is a stalked puffball.  Once mature, the skin on the mushroom cap sloughs off, exposing a rusty colored surface of spores.  (Pardon me for any errors in correct mycological terminology.)  It is recorded from California, Arizona, New Mexico, and northern Mexico.  And Brazil and Australia and Russia.  And Europe and the British Isles.  Interesting to imagine that the same species i found pushing its way up through my hard, barren, drought-stressed, New Mexico caliche soil is the same species that pops up in the Cotswolds and Hawaii.

On the surface of it, records of sandy stiltball's occurrence all over the world implies that it is a common species, but in fact it is really quite rare, with documented sightings being few and far between.  My websearch turned up only three other sightings for New Mexico.  We were extremely fortunate to have seen them. :-)


  1. I think "sandy siltball" sounds like a great insult, but what a find! I have fond memories of picking mushrooms with my father. I wonder if the SSBs are edible? Lisa

  2. Nope, apparently not edible. Lisa