False Truffles, Shoro (Rhizopogon spp.)

When you’re out wandering in the Pine forest, you might see little balls scattered on the ground. A closer look might show you that a lot of them have popped up where animals have been digging. These are False Truffles, Rhizopogon species and have been introduced into the Pine forest to improve the health of the trees through their mycorrhizal associations with them.

There are two varieties in our local forest, or perhaps it is jut one and the others are miscoloured. The one I find far ore often it the Yellow False Truffle (Rhizopogon luteus). There are redder ones here and there and I’m hoping that they’re Shoro (Rhizopogon roseolus) which is the one favoured in Japan.

Like the other Puffballs that we find locally, they are edible and quite tasty when cooked. As with the other Puffballs, get them young and firm before the flesh starts to brown. Definitely don’t try and eat a shrivelled brown one – the spores will make you cough badly.

Only eat those with firm, white flesh.
Only eat those with firm, white flesh.
A dry specimen.
A dry specimen.
Sometimes, you just can't tell!
I don’t know if it’s R. luteolus or R. rubescens. I hope it’s rubescens!
Spore print: Brown
Spore print: Brown

If you’re under Pine trees and find some small white balls just sitting in the leaf litter, look for these details –

It looks like they are growing where animals have been digging.

1 – 2.5 cm diameter.

Tough, rubbery skin

Firm white flesh inside immature specimens, becoming brown in mature specimens.

Yellow or red tinge to the skin.

Caution: Amanita mushrooms sometimes start off hatching from an egg shaped mass. Cut your specimen in half and make sure that there isn’t a mushroom shape inside. If there is or there is any doubt, don’t eat it! I’ll see if I can get a picture soon. Until then, here’s one I found online at the site Mushroaming:

Amanita hatching from an egg. Extreme caution.
Amanita hatching from an egg.

For reference, they’re listed on page 239 of ‘A field guide to Australian Fungi’ by Bruce Fuhrer.

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