NEW SHARON — The Rev. John Tolman thought the sphere-shaped object he spotted Saturday under his barn on Shadagee Road was a soccer ball belonging to a grandchild. It turned out to be a large mushroom he called a Devil's Purse.
"Quite a thing to find under a pastor's barn," he said.
The fungi had a cool and clammy, but firm, exterior with small roots dangling from one side on the bottom. It carried the earthy scent of a mushroom.
"It's a great year for mushrooms," Lauren St. Germain, Farmington's University of Maine Cooperative Extension home horticulture coordinator, said. Mushrooms feed on organic matter in the soil, she said. The wetness this year has added to the many unusual sitings.
The local office has received a few inquiries about the growth of mushrooms on lawns in the area, she said. People mostly want to know if they are edible or poisonous. The local office no longer makes identifications of mushrooms, she said, referring to an online site for the Maine Mycological Association.
An online search revealed similar giant puff-ball type mushrooms. They are usually white with no distinct cap or stem. Once they've started turning brown, it indicates it has gone to spores.