Stinkhorn

Phallus impudicus

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Mushrooms

Mushrooms

By Roger Phillips

Published 2006

Stinkhorn Phallus impudicus L. (illustrated 50% life size) Fruit body initially 3–6cm across, egg-like, half-buried and covered by leaf-litter, attached to substrate by a cord-like mycelial strand; outer wall white to pinkish, with a thick, gelatinous layer between it and the membranous inner layer. Stalk-like, white receptacle soon ruptures the egg, extending to 10–25cm high; pendulous, bell-shaped head is covered by a mesh of raised ribs coated in dark olive slime containing the spores. The slime has a strong, sickly, offensive smell, reminiscent of rotting meat, which attracts flies from large distances; the slime sticks to the legs of the flies, dispersing the spores very rapidly, exposing the underlying Morel-like mesh. Spores 3.5–4Γ—1.5–2ΒΌ, oblong; pale yellow. Habitat in gardens and woods, associated with rotting wood which may be buried in the soil; summer to late autumn. Very common. The egg stage, which lacks the disgusting smell, is edible though not tasty; said to be an aphrodisiac, presumably due to its phallic shape.

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