Sunday, 24 January 2016

Weird and Wonderful Stinkhorns

A bit of a break from the wildflower posts today with the first of my fungi related posts ( I've a fair few of them too). I've seen three new types of stinkhorn this autumn each as weird and wonderful as the next. I'd seen Clathrus ruber, Red Cage Fungus last December (you can read about it here) and have been keen to see the other kinds which are all equally bizarre.

Firstly a trip to Oxshott in Surrey to see Aseroe rubra, the Starfish Fungus. Thanks to Steve Gale at North Downs and Beyond for some very useful gen on this one, which I doubt we'd have found it without. There were many 'eggs' but we were a bit early and only found a few which had 'hatched'. The smell from them is nowhere near as strong as from the Common Stinkhorn so they cannot be located by smell alone, and you'd think the bright red colour would make them very easy to spot. They are often tucked away under low vegetation though and are quite easy to miss until you 'get your eye in'.

Starfish Fungus - Aseroe rubra

The next was really easy to find in the New Forest where literally hundreds can be seen growing on a grassy plain and amongst gorse bushes. This was Clathrus archeri, Devil's Fingers Fungus.

Eggs just beginning to 'hatch' or erupt...

Almost fully erupted..

The finished article, which I would say was more like a starfish than the Starfish Fungus. 
But it can look very finger-like too. 

The mature bodies don't last very well in sunny and windy conditions, soon drying up like this one.
Devil's Fingers - Clathrus archeri

The third stinkhorn, supposed to be common but was one that I hadn't managed to spot until we saw a large group of them in a wood this autumn is Mutinus caninus, The Dog Stinkhorn. They were in a shady conifer plantation and unfortunately my photos were a bit of a disaster and I only get one decent one thus...

Dog Stinkhorn - Mutinus caninus

Finally the stinkiest stinkhorn of them all... 

Common Stinkhorn -Phallus impudicus 

Several years ago I wrote a blog post about the Common Stinkhorn called 'Shameless!'
Complete with the wonderful story of Henrietta Darwin (Charles Darwin's erotophobic daughter) read it HERE.


Wilma said...

Great selection of stinkhorns! We have one quite similar to Clathrus archeri here on our beach, of all places. I think it probably is C. archeri, although I have not definitively keyed it out. The translation from Latin of the last one of yours is "impudent prick", one of my all time favorite binomials. Cheers!

Karen Woolley said...

Wilma - Yes Phallus impudicus is definitely a case of say what you see! C.archeri has certainly spread all over the world. We have a Stinkhorn which grows exclusively on sand dunes Phallus hadriani which looks just like the common stinkhorn except the 'egg' is pink and apparently the smell is sweet like violets ( although I haven't met with one yet to check)