Alien fungi: The pear-shaped fungi that release gas
Zhao Ying

Have you ever seen fungi releasing gas like animals? Well, the common puffball can, but the wind that they break is actually their powdery spores. 

As "perlatum" in its scientific name "Lycoperdon perlatum" suggests, the common puffball is a "widespread" species. It is seen in fields, gardens, along roadsides, or even in the grassy golf course. Its resemblance to a golf ball in shape and size often confuses golfers. 

Two common puffballs. /Getty

Two common puffballs. /Getty

The common puffball looks like an inverted white pear. It has whitish or brown spiny bumps on top that can be rubbed off to leave a net-like pattern.

These fungi are white and firm while young, but as it matures it turns brown and powdery. A mature common puffball develops a hole at the top, and when a raindrop falls on it or a passing animal touches it, it releases spores. A single puff can release over a million spores.

A puffball releases a cloud of spores into the air. /Getty

A puffball releases a cloud of spores into the air. /Getty

For foodies, their most concerned question might be whether it is edible. The answer is yes, but on the condition that it is young. If you slice open its body and find it's purely white, you are safe to fry it or put it in soups. 

One last interesting fact is that it can be used as an indicator of soil pollution because it can bioaccumulate heavy metals like cadmium and lead from the soil.

Four common puffballs growing in a row, UK. /Getty

Four common puffballs growing in a row, UK. /Getty

Alien Fungi

What is the most ancient land-based life after bacteria? Fungi! An industrious decomposer in the natural world, fungi have existed for almost a billion years, at least 500 million years older than the first land plants. In the series "Alien Fungi," CGTN explores some peculiar-looking fungi with alien features and observes how they enjoy their eternal, cryptic lives on damp floors, decaying wood and hidden areas.

Read more:

Stag's horn fungus

Dead man's fingers

Porcelain fungi: Glistening translucent beauties

Cup fungi: The little cups

Ink caps: The mushrooms with dripping ink

Coral mushroom: The corals of the land

Do you dare to eat these violet mushrooms?

Death cap: The deadly fungi with a harmless look

Fly agaric: The mushroom that inspired 'Alice in Wonderland' creators

Bioluminescent fungi: The mushrooms that glow in the dark

Bridal veil stinkhorn: A girlish mushroom that loves to wear 'skirt'

Bird's nest fungi: Dandelion-like drifting life

Barometer Earthstar: The fallen star praying for moisture

(All images via Getty)

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