LANSING, MI (WILX/CNN) - When Ed Delaney told his wife he found a surprise for her. She thought she was getting flowers, but when she came downstairs Ed was holding a giant mushroom.
"I walked in and his arms were literally filled with this huge, disgusting white mass," said Amy Delaney.
"I had this mushroom the size of two basketballs, and it kind of shocked her," Ed Delany said.
A few days later, Amy Delaney found an even larger mushroom in their yard in Leslie, MI. And then, two more of the giant masses popped up.
"Well, they're pretty clearly giant puffballs, Calvatia Gigantea, an appropriate Latin name for these monstrosities. And they are, to the best of my knowledge, the biggest mushrooms in the world," said Jonathan Walton, a professor and plant biologist at Michigan State University.
When Amy Delaney searched the web for pictures of giant puffball mushrooms this big, she had no luck.
"I hadn't ever heard of anybody finding one this big," she said, and it's very possible no one ever has.
"I've never seen specimens this big before. It's pretty impressive, especially when you consider they grow up literally overnight," Walton said.
Ed Delaney wanted to know if giant puffballs popping up were dangerous.
"Is it edible? What else can you do with this? Is it worth anything?" he asked.
Walton says they aren't worth any money, and he wouldn't advise eating them. But mushrooms like these promote forest growth and can help keep a lawn healthy. And if nothing else, the giant puffballs will be a good conversation piece for the Delaneys.
"I had two of my friends over Friday. I told them about the mushroom, and I guess they didn't believe me, so I showed them and I guess that had second thoughts," said Madison Gomez, the Delaney's daughter.