Panama: Boquete Trea Track – Gelatinous Puffball Mushrooms

Here’s a species of one of the weirdest tropical mushroom I’ve even seen – Gelatinous puffball aka Calostoma cinnabarinum. They grew all around the wet slopes of the cloud forest around the trails at Boquete Tree Track. They are somewhat similar to the common puffballs in a sense that when you stop and squeeze them, they puff out spores in an explosive poof. But other then that – these are totally weird and bizarre. The part of the fruiting body that comes out first is a gelatinous gooey ball that then opens up and a dry red sponge-like head comes out. It looks like a small tomato surrounded by jelly of frog eggs (that’s just one of the comparative imagery that comes to mind). Despite the looks, these are not even related to puffballs, and stand totally in the world of their own. They are generally considered inedible, although there is some history of them being eaten raw or powdered by the indigenous population.