Arlington High Student and State Senator Testify on Mushroom Bill

BOSTON – On May 7, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) and Arlington High School sophomore Liam Nokes appeared together at a State House public hearing to testify in support of legislation before the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight. Sponsored by Senator Friedman, the bill, S.1848, would designate the “Giant Puffball” fungus as the official mushroom of the Commonwealth.

In December of 2018, Friedman received a request from Nokes, to petition the General Court to designate the Giant Puffball mushroom (Calvatia gigantea) as the official fungus of Massachusetts. He made a compelling case, characterizing the Giant Puffball fungus as easily recognizable, common in Massachusetts, ecologically important, nontoxic with no psychoactive properties, and, in Nokes’ own words, “remarkable in almost every way.”

“Liam is extremely smart and articulate – you only have to talk with him for a few minutes to be convinced that the Giant Puffball mushroom is an ideal state mushroom for the Commonwealth,” said Friedman. “He’s also provided a wealth of information and sources to support this claim.”

According to Nokes, the “Giant Puffball” mushroom should be the official state mushroom because of its identifiable nature, edibility, and inspiring size and beauty. In his testimony, he explained, “By declaring the ‘Giant Puffball’ the state mushroom, Massachusetts has the opportunity to recognize this humble yet fascinating part of our natural heritage. The ‘Giant Puffball’ is one of the most amazing fungi in Massachusetts, and it would be a step in the right direction to acknowledge a lesser appreciated kingdom of life to make it the official state mushroom.”

Friedman urged the committee to move this bill out favorably, and commended Nokes for his willingness and interest in participating in state government. Friedman and Nokes will work together throughout the 2019-2020 legislative session to move this bill through the legislative process.

In closing her testimony, Friedman said, “I learned from Liam that Boston is home to the oldest amateur mycological club in the United States, making it all the more fitting that Massachusetts recognize one of its native fungi in this way. The Giant Puffball mushroom seems the perfect candidate.”

To continue tracking the bill, visit the Massachusetts Legislature website: