Countryside ranger left mesmerised by mammoth mushroom
A countryside ranger has discovered an enormous puffball mushroom which weighed in at almost two stone.
Fiona Wishart, a ranger with Falkirk Council, found the 1st 9lbs (10.6kg) mushroom as she did her rounds at a site near Polmont on Monday.
The 1.5-metre (59ins) fungus was so heavy that she needed help from a colleague to carry it back to the office in a coat.
After taking photos, they cut the mushroom up and shared it out between 15 people, who took it home to cook.
She said: "It was really exciting as it's probably the biggest puffball I've ever found in my life.
"It tasted lovely. When you cut it up it has a texture like marshmallow. The best way to cook it is to dip it in egg and fry it up, but some people dipped it in parmesan.
"It was lucky we found it when we did as it was in perfect condition."
Giant puffballs occur from late summer through the autumn and can be found in scrub and various grassy habitats.
They often grow to about the size of a football, though there have been reports of specimens weighing about three stone (20kg).
The largest British specimen ever measured was 162cm (64ins) in circumference, according to the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew website.
It says the mushroom has been "long sought after for its culinary value" and that it was well known to the Greeks and Romans.
Falkirk Council's Ranger Service aims to protect and promote the local environment.
One of its main functions is promoting the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, which encourages the public to behave responsibly whilst exercising their rights of access to the countryside.