Arctic Life/Arctic Fungi/Basidiomycetes/ Order Lycoperdales

From Arctic Bioscan Wiki
A pair of earthstars, Geastrum. Photo courtesy of Bernard Spragg

These fungi are the puffballs and earthstars, which are saprobic in soils or on wood, and range in size from several millimetres to over 1 metre in diameter. A few species are ectomycorrhizal; some are poisonous. They contain a mass of dry powdery spores which are expelled in a "puff" when the fruiting body is disturbed. Many puffballs (Lycoperdon) are edible, but some Inuit consider fungi to be the excrement of shooting stars and, as such, frown upon eating them.

Puffballs, which are called pujoaluk in Inuktitut, are used medicinally. The firm white flesh of a mature pujoaluk is used like a bandage to stop bleeding and discourage infection in wounds. Both puffballs and earthstars (Geastrum) are commonly reported in the Arctic, particularly on Baffin Island.