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Aseroe rubra

Aseroe rubra

It's been a little while since we've had a fungus on BPotD, so I'm glad a few people are contributing photographs recently. Today's image is from Ken in Australia, aka kjbeath@Flickr (original image via the Flickr BPotD Group Pool). Thank you, Ken!

A member of the stinkhorn family of fungi, Aseroe rubra is commonly known as the starfish fungus or sea anemone fungus (for obvious reasons, I hope). Tim Geho of MushroomExpert.com writes that it is not only widespread throughout the south Pacific, it is also the most common stinkhorn in Hawaii. It apparently can also be found in southeastern North America, but like Tim, I've not been able to verify whether it is native or not.

Some interesting factoids are also available on this summary from a radio or television show in Australia with Tim Entwistle of the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney. Two of my favourite tidbits are: 1) it was the first fungus ever collected in Australia by Western explorers; and 2) its name literally means “disgusting red”.

18 Comments

More fungi and other photos can be found at my website.

Impressive! If I saw something like that in my garden, I might think that outerspace aliens really had arrived.

I can only guess at the size looking at the plants nearby. Is it as big as it looks (4 inches tall or so)? Is it a typical example?

About 2 inches tall, and 4 inches across, this is a typical specimen with the only variation being that the base can also be white rather than pink.

Amazing.

It's from a radio show.

I discovered a similar one when walking to work in Newcastle NSW. I'd never seen anything like it. It didn't have the brown slimy stuff in the middle, just a funnel and it didn't have the white stalk like yours, just sitting on the mulch. It was about 5cm in diametre. Very alien & very cool! Fungus is such amazing stuff.

The TRIFIDS are coming ! The TRIFIDS are coming!

I was totally intrigued to find a specimen of this kind in my garden - in South-Eastern Tasmania, Australia!

I had no idea I had had such an exotic batch of mulch delivered!

Thanks for your helpful information - curiosity satisifed!

Does anyone know about toxicity of these? They have recently shown up in my yard in Kula, Hawaii and now my dog is sick as if poisoned and he may have eaten some. I've read differing reports for different varieties - some are Chinese delicacies and some are definitely toxic; but I haven't seen any reports for this specific variety. Any help will be most appreciated!

Having found this same fungus although without such a long stem in our yard this afternoon, I was amazed to actually find it on the web. I don't know common it is. We are in the Manly area of NSW Australia. As there over 2 dozen 'eggs along with 4 'flowers' I am concerned about the toxicity of it as we have a very curius 2 1/2 yr old but also not knowing how to easily get rid of them without having to redo the whole of the top soil/mulch. Can anyone help?

And we have them here in South Africa too, although they seem to be not as prolific here as in places like Hawaii for instance. The specimens I have photographed look similar, but seem to have thicker tentacles. Also look like fried calamari covered with soy sauce.

I'm glad I finally found out what that weird stinking thing is !!! I saw one as a child in southern Alabama and was scared of it because of the smell. My mother didn't even believe me, thought that I was lying about it. And for a long time I questioned myself, did I really see that? Well now I'm an adult and I've seen another one. In the flower bed at my job. And thanks to this website I now know that there really is such a thing . And from what I've read so far it would seem that only South Carolina has them , but I've seen them in Alabama and Mississippi

This is like an alien life form from some Star Trek episode! Yuck!

My neighbor has one of these growing in her yard, but we live in Northwest Pa.?

found one on a lawn in Hilo, Hawaii but it is pure white and hollow in the center - anyone know what species this might be?

It is a Stink Horn, possibly the genus Aseroƫ.
It arises from an "egg" stage, see the shell around the "wrist." In this early (young) stage the fingers are together. As it matures the finger tips will move apart exposing the colored (dark green) sticky spore mass. The mass smells like carrion and attracts flies. The spores stick to the flies and are dispersed as the fly lands on rotting leaves, etc.

I found at least eight of these in my garden in Nortehrn New South Wales. We found the smell to be unbearble.

We discovered one of these amazing "fungus flowers" in the garden this morning. It had only eight bright red petals but it was completely black in the centre, turns out this was a mass of flies having a great time!!. We have had lots of rain in beautiful Orange NSW of late, is it possible that this would trigger the fungus to flower??. Thanks,

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