Saturday, November 5, 2011


Yesterday evening, I found a wonderful patch of little puffball fungi releasing their spores in response to wind gusts coming out of the north. The sun had not yet set and I was feeling a bit lazy, so I laid in the grass and watched the spores launch themselves into the air. It was a comfortable spot and I’d probably still be there if the sun hadn’t dropped behind the hill.

These puffballs were just a little over an inch across and had openings at the top from which the spores exited.

The wind came in gusts and had a double effect on the fungi. Strong gusts would physically shake the puffball and produce a substantial plume of spores.

Gentler winds produced a more subtle removal of spores. Spores are forced from the opening as the moving air produces an area of low pressure outside the enclosed globe. I once demonstrated this phenomenon to someone by gently blowing over the opening in the puffball and producing a stream of exiting spores. I passed the puffball over for her to try, but instead of blowing across the hole, she blew into it and got a face full of spores for her trouble. Needless to say, I was accused of perpetrating some elaborate practical joke. My defensive arguments were severely weakened by my laughter.

The spores seem to lift slowly from the opening and then accelerate as they get caught up by the wind.

I’m showing this shot because there appears to be a ghostly woman’s face staring at me from the mass of spores. Too bad it’s after Halloween. Of course, it may be that I just inhaled too many hallucinogenic mushroom spores and there’s no face at all.


  1. You should submit some of these photos for publication is a nature magazine. They're excellent.

  2. HI Steve...fascinating photo...crazy to be able to see those spores in a photo ..very good!!

    Now to the weirdness of it all of you laying in the grass with these spores just floating about...possibilities are that you are right...I didn't see the ghostly women...hmmm,but I did see what looked like the head of the Tyrannoraurus Dinosaur ; }
    Those spores must be floating my

    When I was a kid we loved stomping on them...!!


  3. Thanks Mark.

    Hi Grace. I can see the dinosaur, but it looks to me like a friendly one.