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Phallus impudicus

Phallus impudicus

A thank you to mudman@UBC Botanical Garden Forums for sharing this scan (original thread). Much appreciated!

Common stinkhorn can be found in the temperate forests and rich-soiled gardens of North America and Europe (and, according to Wikipedia, possibly southeast Australia). Of course, this image isn't of the mature fungus (see: MushroomExpert's Phallus impudicus for photographs). Instead, this is a cross-section scan of the immature stinkhorn, described succinctly in Wikipedia's entry on Phallus impudicus:

Sometimes called the witch's egg, the immature stinkhorn is whitish and egg-shaped and up to 6 cm (2 in) in diameter. On the outside is a thick whitish volva, also known as the peridium, covering the olive-coloured gelatinous gleba. It is the latter which contains the spores and which later stinks and attracts the flies; within this layer is a green layer which will become the 'head' of the expanded fruit body; and inside this is a white structure called the receptaculum (the stalk when expanded), which is hard, but with an airy structure like a sponge. The eggs become fully grown stinkhorns very rapidly, over a day or two.

For those who ask such things, yes, it is edible at this young stage, but it is not commonly eaten.

Lastly, a reminder that if you're a fan of fungi, lichens and slime molds, there is an area of the forums dedicated to these beasties: Fungi, Lichens and Slime Molds Identification & Appreciation.


As a naturalist, I've shown stinkhorn fungi to groups of children a few times -- you can imagine their reactions! But it's a great way to get kids (and adults) interested in this amazing group of organisms. Thanks for sharing a very different view of this fungus.

OMG! I can almost feel the smell....

Great photo!

what a fascinating fungus and write-up, Daniel. cool!

Nice. We get a range of Phallales growing in our front garden over winter. All species (as far as I know) are saprotrophic fungi. We definately get a Phallus species here in southeastern Australia but whether it is P. impudicus -- I'm not certain. Australia does have some introduced basidiomycetes (a few Amanita species and some others) so it's certainly possible.

A similar variety grew in my backyard in Oklahoma, only the cap was a lovely salmon color. The smell, though, the horrible smell!

Wonderful image. Many thanks.

What a great and appropriate latin name. The guy who named it must have really had a good time with his colleagues

I certainly would not have opened an e-mail with a subject line with this name only!

Reading your daily e-mails is a very pleasurable end to my office day. I would like to open them earlier, but I know I will end up looking at all of your references and who can tell how long it might take and to where it might lead. I would never get any work done on time.

Thanks for all of your efforts

I have a similar fungi growing in my garden but it is bright orange----has anyone ever seen this?

Rosanne, the forums (linked above "Post a comment") have a fungus and lichen ID section (particularly helpful if you have an image).

I have seen ONE of these in my life. My little friends and I watched it so closely (as a child and without a camera) that I had forgotten about seeing that mushroom. Your botanical study (pic)reminded me of such a long ago memory...I now reminisce, clearly, how fascinated we were and how we giggled about it forlong afterward.

TERRIFIC photograph!

Miss Carol

very very thanks

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