Mystery mushroom; turned out to be Battarrea phalloides, July 28, 2019

Mushroom Mystery Solved!

Remember that strange mushroom I posted about back in early October?

After searching the internet, I concluded it was an Amanita that had been parasitized by another fungus. Rationale: it had a volva, like many Amanitas, but the spores were rusty brown, not white. And Amanita muscarii has appeared in my garden nearby. Searching the internet, I read that Amanita can be parasitized by a species of Hypomyces. That had to be it, I thought.

About the same time, I saw a poster announcing a mushroom show for the general public by the Southern Vancouver Island Mycological Society on November 3rd, with experts available to help with mushroom identification. It wouldn’t hurt to get another opinion, so I went, with phone photo of the mystery mushroom in hand.

It’s been a great mushroom season here, due to lots of rain in September and October, so many different specimens were on display, including a truly impressive King Boletus, more than a foot tall, with a cap nearly a foot in diameter. I didn’t know they could get that big.

Giant specimen of Boletus edulis at SVIMS Mushroom Show Nov. 3, 2019
The star of the mushroom show: a giant specimen of Boletus edulis, aka cep or porcino.

I had interesting chats with various fungophiles. After looking at one of the photos in my blog post, one of these folks concluded that it was a specimen of Battarrea phalloides, also called the scaley-stalked puffballsandy stiltball, or desert stalked puffball. The description and photos here match my specimen exactly.

Battarrea phalloides mushroom, July 2019
My specimen of Battarrea phalloides in July.
Mystery mushroom, Battarrea phalloides, October 10, 2019
And in October, dug up for inspection.

According to Wikipedia, it grows in “dry, sandy locations throughout the world.” That certainly describes my place, especially in July. It’s also found among sand dunes on the west coast of North America. Someone at the mushroom show mentioned that one had turned up on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

It’s not a zombie mushroom after all, just a weirdo.

So while the internet may be useful for identifying mushrooms, it’s always best to ask an expert, especially if one is foraging for edible specimens. In case you’re wondering, Battarrea phalloides, while not poisonous, does not appear to be edible.


    1. Thanks for your comment, China. Touching is probably OK, but it’s best not to eat any mushroom except ones you are 100% sure are edible. If in doubt, just look and leave them alone.


    1. Around Victoria, there seem to be more Death Cap Mushrooms around. They look quite benign and resemble an edible type found in Asia, so it’s easy for people to get into trouble.


        1. No. I don’t know the particulars of every case, but there was one sad story about a year ago about an Asian family whose 3 year old boy died after they mistook death cap mushrooms for an edible species. These mushrooms arrived in the area on imported nursery stock, apparently, and are now spreading in urban areas. A couple of puppies have been poisoned too, by eating these mushrooms.


  1. I like mushrooms, but I don’t think I’d be game to eat a wild one. That porcino mushroom was simply amazing. You could just about feed a family of four with one of those. 🙂

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    1. I haven’t gone mushroom hunting for the pot for decades (my mom and I used to), but I do like to see mushrooms doing their thing in the woods. Or, as it turns out, by my garden shed.


      1. lol – I once had aspirations to grown my own cultivated mushrooms. Even bought a box full of soil and mushroom makings. Zip. I think I must have put it in the wrong place because I didn’t get a single edible mushroom out of it.

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    1. That’s the way fungi operate — they digest before they ingest. And I’d rather try “meat” made of fungus than an insect-based protein product. No grubs for me, thanks.


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