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Stinkhorns Maturing

10-5-18 dog stinkhorn IMG_9973There are a group of fungi known as stinkhorns — aptly named, as their foul odor can be detected even by the human nose. All stinkhorns first appear as an “egg” which can be up to two inches high. When the eggs rupture, the appearance of the different species of fungi in this family (Phallaceae) can differ dramatically, but many have a phallic-like shape. At maturity, all stinkhorns produce an olive-green to olive-brown slimy substance that has a putrid smell (to humans), but is very appealing to many insects.  This slime is loaded with the fungi’s spores. Insects landing on a stinkhorn get their feet covered with the spore-laden slime while they are busy ingesting it.  Once the insects depart, the spores are dispersed far and wide.

Stinkhorns appear suddenly, and their growth can almost be observed, as they go from the egg stage to maturity with impressive speed. While these fungi are not poisonous, it is doubtful that having smelled them, anyone would desire to eat them.  (Photo:  Dog Stinkhorn aka Devil’s Dipstick, Mutinus caninus)

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5 responses

  1. I have two species of Stinkhorns that have been blooming here for years and the past month has been a spectacular show. Mutinus elegans or the Elegant Stinkhorn and Phallus impudicus have both been having a field day near my pine trees. I love it when I can smell them in bloom from 30′ as I know that I have healthy soil. I call the smell ‘funk’ which is not a very accurate description, but how else do you describe it. I am appalled at how many places on the internet tell you how to get rid of it instead of enjoying your healthy soil base. Thanks for this post!

    October 5, 2018 at 10:13 am

  2. I have a whole family of Ravenel’s Stinkhorns growing in my (Cape Cod) garden for the first time this year. I believe they are Ravenl’s (Phallus ravenelii) and not P. impudicus. The head is not chambered. I almost missed them until I was tidying up and noticed several well past their prime, but with lots of “eggs” coming up nearby. This is so exciting!

    October 5, 2018 at 10:24 am

    • Lucky you! Stinkhorns are by far my favorite fungi!

      October 5, 2018 at 11:08 am

  3. Dede & Kendrick Heath

    Dear Mary Holland ~ We’re wondering why (& how) these ads have recently been appearing on your posts. Is it just our neck of the woods (in California, for the moment)? Or is it something else? It was a real surprise (not entirely welcome). ~ Dede & Ken Heath

    * * * Dede & Kendrick Heath


    October 5, 2018 at 12:33 pm

  4. Alice Pratt

    Definitely interesting…a neighbor had a great deal them coming up in his mulch, in an area infront of his front door…quite a welcome! I wonder how they grow so quickly?

    October 5, 2018 at 1:55 pm

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