Because my dog ate one and I don't want to leave her alone without knowing, that's why
November 9, 2008 10:35 AM   Subscribe

Can you identify this New England fungus, or mast-nut, or possibly discarded confection, found on the ground? It's brown with orange, pumpkin-scented insides.

It is about the size and shape of a chicken egg, or a sea bean, and it is dark brown to black. It is smooth with no apparent stems. The flesh is uniformly soft and rubbery, and looks like the flesh of an olive when torn. Its insides are about the consistency of Reese's Peanut Butter Cup insides, and smell pleasantly like pumpkin. I thought it might even be some kind of sweet, but it doesn't seem to have a very edible outside.
posted by Countess Elena to Science & Nature (8 answers total)
Perhaps an old puffball mushroom?
(Images show some giant ones, but they come all sizes. Most are white when fresh, but will turn darker over time.
In which case, the dog will be OK.
posted by beagle at 10:49 AM on November 9, 2008

Maybe. It was very dark and rubbery; it's hard to believe that it ever had anything crisp or puffy about it. Fungi are so strange, though.
posted by Countess Elena at 11:07 AM on November 9, 2008

It's after Halloween, with just enough time for the chocolate to deform, so I'm guessing it's one of these.
posted by emyd at 11:54 AM on November 9, 2008

Certainly sounds like a species of puff-ball to me. Or perhaps deer feces. pumpkin-eating deer.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:54 AM on November 9, 2008

Maybe an old soggy oak gall? Normally the outsides are smooth, and the inside is kind of like styrofoam. Old and rain soaked it might be like you describe. I don't know about the pumpkin bit, though.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:41 PM on November 9, 2008

oneirodynia, I had no idea about oak galls. I plucked them off and played with them as a kid, and now I find out they're tumors induced by wasps to brood inside? God, I hate wasps. If any galls can have soft, pliant outsides and creamy centers, this could have been a gall. They seem to come in as many varieties as species.

emyd, I know my way around a Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkin., and they're all PB, no punkin spice. Chocolate would have been sticky, melty and sweet-smelling.

Baby_Balrog, around here, it's more likely to be hobo feces than deer feces. (I have actually had to drag dried human turds out of my dog's mouth, but that is another story.)
posted by Countess Elena at 5:51 PM on November 9, 2008

There are "false puffballs" that have hard or rubbery insides - that is one of the primary ways to tell them from true (edible) puffballs. False puffballs, related to earth stars, are poisonous. GIS the term for pix - since you haven't provided any, it's fairly pointless for me to post some random images.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:27 PM on November 9, 2008

I am horrified by the information about oak galls, as well. I, too, thought they were delightful. Like elfin homes, magical seed pods, little wood bubbles. Little did I know the waspy horrors.
posted by redsparkler at 10:51 PM on November 9, 2008

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