Tuesday, 30 January 2007

#5 Strange Stinkhorns

It could be the pink wrinkled paw of a weird and unknown creature hatching from an egg in an ancient forest, but it's just a fungus in a garden.....


Local parks, reserves and botanic gardens can be excellent places to observe nature up close. The four stinkhorn fungi that I am featuring here were all photographed at the Hunter Region Botanic Gardens at Heatherbrae on the Pacific Highway north of Newcastle.

What are stinkhorns?

Stinkhorn fungi belong to the Clathraceae family. Most have an absurd eye-catching appearance that varies from phallic-shaped or tentacled, basket-shaped to draped in delicate lacy skirts. But all have two common features: they emerge from a terrestrial egg-like structure, and they produce a foul smelling sticky spore mass.

Aseroe rubra with its spore-coated red tentacles emerging from an egg-like sac


The spherical or flattened glutinous egg forms on or just below the ground surface, and if dissected reveals a fully developed compressed fruiting body awaiting the right conditions to emerge and mature. The image above shows the Starfish Stinkhorn, Aseroe rubra, emerged from the ruptured 'egg'.


Starfish or Anemone Fungus, Aseroe rubra, is found in Australia's eastern states in moist mulched gardens as well as alpine grasslands and mountain woodlands. As far as I am aware, it is not found in the west, but if residents of the western and dry inland parts of Australia have seen this growing in their areas I'd be interested to hear about it.

There are more pictures and observations of Aseroe rubra at my Australian Fung Blog.

A Starfish Fungus with its hollow stalk, divided arms and brown spore mass


My first sighting of the Starfish Fungus was in the moist rainforest of Barrington Tops National Park east of the Hunter Valley, but since then I have found several, and often massed displays, at the Hunter Region Botanic Gardens. The preferred habitat of many stinkhorns is mulched gardens, so therefore they can make regular appearances in home gardens.

Reproduction

Stinkhorn fungi stink for a reason. Flies and other insects that are attracted to the smell of rotting flesh or faeces are drawn to the foul odour of the fungi. The odour emanates from a greenish-brown gooey substance (gleba) that contains spores. Visiting insects find this slime delectable and trample in it as they feast, then unwittingly spread the fungus spores enabling the stinkhorn life-cycle to continue elsewhere.


Phallus rubicundus is a common stinkhorn popping up in mulched gardens and rainforest humus


Phallic-looking fruiting bodies emerge from egg-like sacs and can elongate several inches within a period of a few hours, making these striking and almost obscene growths a novelty in suburban gardens and lawns. The novelty soon wears off, however, as the pong of the fungi reaches the kitchen window. But I will admit that my olfactory glands were not offended and I think their unsavoury reputation is somewhat exaggerated.


But as odd and repugnant as they might appear, they will do no harm to your garden and will wilt and decay within a very short period of time.

Note in the Phallus rubicundus image above the stem is perforated and hollow. It resembles the texture of foam rubber. The conical cap coated in a sticky spore mass is separated from the stem, joined only at the summit. This separated cap is an important feature in identifying it from similar phallic stinkhorns.

Lantern Fungus


I have only encountered one flurry of Lantern Fungi, Lysurus mokusin, at the Hunter Region Botanic Gardens. The tip of the pinkish-orange stalk is branched into 4 to 6 short arms which often remain joined. The number of arms corresponds with the number of angular ribs on the stalk and the gooey brown spore mass is concentrated in the vertical depressions between the arms.

An aging Lantern Stinkhorn with spreading arms


Mutinus borneensis is a white stinkhorn, narrower than the previous two orange phallic fungi I've illustrated here. On emerging from the small glutinous sac, it also elongates at a remarkable rate, attracting flies to the orange-brown pointed tip coated in brown spore bearing gleba.

Egg-like sacs of Mutinus borneensis generally make a massed display


Wood chips and organic matter provide ideal habitat for stinkhorn fungi, so mulched gardens and local parks are likely to support occasional outbreaks of these strange but fascinating growths. Observe them if you have the opportunity. In some parts of the world it is reputed that these jelly eggs and spongy fetid fungi end up on the dinner table, but not in this household!

Digging them out or poisoning them will not rid your garden of these odd creations. They will be fleeting, so enjoy their brief existence.

Via my blog counter, I notice that there are many international visitors to this page on some of Australia's interesting stinkhorn fungi. I would be most interested to know if my pictures and observations have helped others identify stinkhorns from other countries. If readers feel inclined to leave a brief message via the 'comments' tag below or my email contact on the right of the page, I would be most appreciative.

115 comments:

Esperance Blog said...

Hi Gaye, what a great selection of stinkhorns you have in your area. I am feeling quite envious as I have only noticed one species around me, ie Red Fingers, Colus pusillus.

The Red Fingers only grow around swampy areas and sometimes are even flooded out. I was wondering to what extend these fungi require humid conditions. Do your ones grow near streams, ponds, etc., only grow at the most humid time of year, or like the compost heap where there is additional moisture?

Thanks.

Jack West

Woollybutt (Peter) said...

Nice work Gaye,

Great photos and and informative writing. I've obviously not been observant enough in my bushwalking, as the only one I've noticed around here is the Starfish or Anemone Fungus, Aseroe rubra, which is pretty common in one particular part of our local national park. This area is at the bottom of a steep south-facing hill and is pretty damp most of the time because it is in almost constant shade. The first time I saw one of these I was amazed and felt like I'd discovered a new species. I know that sounds silly, but they just look so bizarre that it's easy to imagine you've discovered something completely new.

Thanks for that Gaye, I now have a name for this fungus and I'll keep my eyes peeled for the other species from now on.

I look forward to discovering what you write about next time.

Cheers
Peter

--

Gaye from the Hunter said...

hi Jack, according to my field guides there should be several more stinkhorn species in this area.

These 4 species found at the Hunter Botanic Gardens were all photographed between March and July, in situations that receive part sun and part shade, all sprouting from mulch, and none receiving more than infrequent garden watering.

The Botanic Gardens make their own mulch from prunings which is quite thick and replenished regularly, holding moisture well. The humidity would vary, but would be higher than further up the Hunter Valley where I live.

The Starfish Fungi that I saw in Barrington Tops NP were growing in moist rainforest but at quite a high altitude.

I'll be looking forward to some local fungus hunting when the peak fungus season draws near in mid autumn.

Regards
Gaye

Gaye from the Hunter said...

hi Peter, I too was astounded and excited to see the red tentacles of the Starfish Fungus protruding from the leaf litter deep in the mossy beech forest on Gloucester Tops.

And I too considered at the time that I might be the first person to ever see such a strange but exquisite natural growth - until I consulted my field guide and realised that it was a common fungus.

But I never cease to be excited and amazed at the surprises that nature dishes up.

Regards
Gaye

elfram said...

I am so jealous!!

I have not recently encountered any of these Stinkhorn fungi, and hope to get a Captain Cook at one in the up-coming fungus season in May onwards.

Nice work, m'gal!

Gaye from the Hunter said...

hi elfram, I too look forward to the fungus season each year. And normally throughout summer I am delighted to find a few fungi sprouting in my lawn following storms, but the drought is still upon us with only 10mm since Christmas in 4 showers.

Regards
Gaye

Ocean and Forest Walks said...

I don't know how I got here - but what an exciting place - love the pictures - never seen and fungi like this where I live. I need to start looking!! cheers. Fun, informative site.

Gaye from the Hunter said...

g'day Ocean and Forest Walker, now there's an Aussie welcome for you :)

I am thrilled to have a Canadian nature lover reading about our fabulous Australian flora and fauna and sharing the enthusiasm that comes with nature observation experiences.

I have briefly checked out your Nature Blog and will do so in detail shortly. I will be very interested to read about your experiences in nature on the other side of the planet, and your photography is excellent.

Thank you for taking the time to comment.

Cheers
Gaye

Home seller said...

I live in Albuquerque New Mexico and have (finally) found out what that stinky, gooey, strange thing is. I had seen my tube-like stinker before but didn't remember the smell until I found my current one. We are trying to sell our house so this is certainly not helping...smells like our dogs pooped all in the flower garden...
bev

Gaye from the Hunter said...

hi Bev,

Thank you for letting me know that you found my blog, and have identified your stinky garden growths.

My suggestion to mask the odour would be to cover the offending fungi with a shovel of sand or soil (and then hope for a breeze to disperse the pong). At the moment, I have no other suggestions, but if I have any bright ideas, I'll post them up here.

Good luck with your home-selling, and thank you once again for leaving a comment - it's great to know when people find my blog and find it useful.

Regards,
Gaye

Anonymous said...

Hi there from Tampa, Florida. In the last 2 weeks (Nov.) we have found two of these strange items in our garden. The first we thought might have been a dead crab or something dropped by a passing seagull :) but, after finding the second one, and talking ourselves out of the idea that it may be some sort of egg planted by alien visitors, we googled 'red stinky fungus' and found your page. Great pictures and information. (and a relief to know that i was not in the opening scene of some sci-fi or horror flic) :)

~Christine

Gaye from the Hunter said...

hi Christine,

I'm pleased that my blog had some useful information and pictures for you. Thank you so much for leaving a message to let me know this.

Yes, life-forms from another world come to mind, don't they. When I first saw them, I was amazed. I am still amazed every time I see some.

I am always hoping to find some different species of stinkhorn fungi, and when I do, I will enter them on my blog. I have a book that shows some thoroughly weird and fabulous species that I am just longing to trip over. Nature has some mysteries out there, hey?

Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment.

Cheers
Gaye

Darlene said...

Hi,

I live in Pensacola, Florida and we have the starfish stink horn in our front yard. We are trying to get rid of it because it smells like rotting flesh and we can't open our windows for the smell. The neighbors haven't complained yet but I would like to take care of the problem before they do. How do you get rid of it? Please help.

Gaye from the Hunter said...

hi Darlene,

I'm glad you found my blog.

If the fungus is in a garden where you can dig, I suggest lifting it (together with the soil around it) with a shovel, and upturning it so that it is covered in soil. Then throw a shovelful of fresh soil on top.

If it is in the lawn where you don't want to be digging holes, then I suggest that you throw a couple of shovelfuls of fresh dirt on top of it.

This is about all I can think of.

I wish you well.

Regards
Gaye

Christine said...

Gaye, we just noticed one of these beauties in our back garden in suburban Sydney today. It has been bucketing down rain, so probably ideal conditions as it is in semi-shade under a standard LiliPili bush, only the second time I've seen one and not in the suburbs before. Great to finally put a name to the photos I took!
Hooroo,
Christine near Parramatta in Sydney
http://missmuffettwo.blogspot.com/

Gaye from the Hunter said...

hi Christine,

I'm pleased that my blog could help. With all the rain and the unusually high humidity, I have also found some stinkhorns lately, including one species that I haven't previously seen which pongs real bad.

As yet, I have not had any come up in my yard.

Thank you for leaving a comment. It is very interesting to know where and when people are finding these fascinating things.

Cheers
Gaye

Ellie said...

I found a aseroe rubra in my garden the other day and actually thought someone had tossed a bait over the fence to my dogs. It looked like crab meat. I got rid of it and then today found it growing again. I dug it up and took it to work where my mates decided it was fungi of some sort. I also found sort of seedling things (?). I googled until I found photos that looked the same and given the descriptions I think I have the right one. My concern is that given the rotting flesh smell my dogs will try to eat it and become sick. Aside from tossing sand on top, got any suggestions on how to get rid of it? Dog noses being what they are, they'll soon find it again.

Gaye from the Hunter said...

hi Ellie,

I understand your concern regarding your pets. I suggest that you contact either the Melbourne or Perth Herbarium where they have mycologists who should be able to give you a definite answer.

Regards
Gaye

Anonymous said...

Tampa Fl. Checking in with the Lantern Fungus. Had to look it up with your blog otherwise it would continue to be called by my wife's name "Pig Snout".

Gaye from the Hunter said...

hi Tampa Florida,

I don't think "pig's snout" is such a bad name at all, and it put a smile on my face.

Thank you for the update on your backyard fungi.

Cheers from Gaye

Anonymous said...

wow! that's what I thought when I saw one of these in my garden for the 1st time. Thanks to your excellent website I was able to identify this amazing looking fungus. thanks

Gaye from the Hunter said...

You're welcome. I'm pleased my website has been of use to you. I have a website dedicated to fungi at

http://australianfungi.blogspot.com/

which might be of further use. I have a couple more amazing stinkhorn fungi to feature, when time permits.

Cheers
Gaye

Gordon said...

Thanks for the info.. I thought I had a sewer leak until I came across these plants..

Gaye from the Hunter said...

hello Gordon,

I'm pleased my blog could help.

Just for your interest, these weird things called stinkhorns, are not plants. Fungi do not produce their own food via photosynthesis as plants do, but rather, have to search out their own food on or in their substrate.

Fascinating things, fungi !!

Cheers
Gaye

Azure said...

I'm glad to finally find out what these things are. We are in Indiana and have the ones that are orange and fingerlike with a green band at the top. They smell horrible. I scooped all the mulch out from the flowerbeds where we had them last year. Most of the mulch closer to the ground was white and rotten. Now we have them in another flower bed.

So all you do to get rid of them is turn them over or put fresh soil on top of them? Will they keep coming back?

Thanks for the info!

Gaye from the Hunter said...

hi azure,

thank you for leaving a comment, and I'm glad my blog was helpful.

The white rotten mulch probably contained much of the fungi mycelium.The main, and mostly unseen part of the fungus, is made up of microscopic threads (called hyphae), which weave their way through the soil, wood or other dead or living organisms. A mass of hyphae is called a mycelium. The fungus that we see sprouting from the ground or other substrate is the "fruiting body" or reproductive part of the fungi.

As it would be difficult to remove all of the hyphae in your soil, it is most likely that it will re-appear most years when conditions are favourable.

I hope this helps.

Cheers
Gaye

Anonymous said...

Great information - we just found a clump of these in some leaf litter under a Magnolia and beside an almost dead Pinus species?. I have read the information and now we know what these strange fungi are.
Thanks!
Jock

Gaye from the Hunter said...

hello Jock,

I'm pleased you were able to benefit from my fungi posting. Thank you for leaving a comment.

I apologise for the delay in posting your comment and responding to it - I have been wandering around the Western Australian bush for a few weeks. I found plenty of fungi over there, but no stinkhorns.

I haven't had a chance to go fungi hunting locally this season, but am looking forward to getting out amongst it soon.

Cheers
Gaye

Sandra said...

Hi Gayle,
Fantastic to find all this info here, we thought aliens had visited our garden at some stage ... now we can put a name to the fungi.
Do they keep spreading??? We started off with about four of these in our garden, now there would be at least 20. We have not noticed any smell, haven't gotten too close either not knowing what they were.

Thank you

tansy said...

my kids just found a few of these in our yard today and doing a search, i stumbled upon your blog. we are over here in the us, in illinois.

i'll be posting a picture of it on my blog once blogger lets me!

thanks for the info!

Anonymous said...

Hi there,
Thank you for your excellent information and photos, now I feel confident in saying we have a stinkhorn! This weird growth in our yard had me perplexed, yet fascinated, as well as a bit concerned about it's potential toxicity. Indeed it does look like a space pod or a deep sea anemone of some sort. I didn't smell anything myself, but did notice the loads of flies who just couldn't stay away. Felt it was best to keep my nose and the noses of my dogs at a safe distance. Most intriguing to me I think is that when I knocked the first one loose with the side of my shoe, 3 small seed-like things made an audible break away from the host, "pop pop...pop" and buried themselves in the grass. Strange indeed; there's a replacement one growing there now, but as I read they are short lived, I feel relieved to learn they are harmless and temporary. Thank you for allaying my discomfort.
PS. This is happening in Pasadena, CA-USA.

jo said...

While this might be an interesting type of fungi, i am writing to let pet owners, that if ingested by small dogs or cats can cause death. We started getting these growing in mulch we put down, i thought they were really different looking and tried to find them on the internet by giving a description, but found no information. Last week my mini dachshund ingested some, unknown to me at first, became ill, spent 5 hours in emergency care and then passed away. Apparently the spore mush on top smells like rotting meat or dog feces which attracts some dogs and cats. Our vet was not even aware of its deadliness. I put in my dogs symptoms and medical information and the stinkhorn fungi picture came up, exactly the ones we have in our yard. So while i don't mean to put a damper on the blog, i just want pet owners not to suffer the same loss i have had to endure. please post this and thank you very much for your consideration.

Anonymous said...

Hello ... I live in Eastern Oklahoma and we have had so much rain this year. A few days ago a strange stinky fungus popped up that I had never seen before. Your information helped me identify it as a Phallus rubicundus. Thank you ... Carol

Gaye from the Hunter said...

Apologies for the delay in posting comments and responses - life has been hectic.

hi Sandra - as the fungi fruiting bodies will have extensive networks of unseen fungi within the substrate (in this case, the earth or mulch), they will spread. And they will also spread via spore dispersal.

I have also noticed that not all stinkhorn fungi actually stink, and some species worse than others.

*****

hi Tansy

I'm pleased you found my blog entry useful, and thank you for leaving a comment.

*****

hi anonymous from Pasadena,

I, too, find these fungi growths extremely interesting and intriguing. I have not seen the dropping of the "seed-like" structure, so will be keeping an eye out for strange things. Like all fungi, stinkhorn fungi spread via microscopic spores.

*****

hi Jo,

yours is a distressing story, and thank you for passing on your experience. I have previously not heard of stinkhorn fungi being toxic, expecially as the immature "eggs" are said to be edible (although I doubt, palatable).

*****

hi Carol,

I am glad that my blog information was helpful in identifying your strange garden growths. Thank you for leaving a comment.

*****

Regards to all
Gaye

Randi said...

Hey! I was so worried about this strange fungus that I found in my garden located in Holland, Michigan, United States. I haven't noticed a stench however, just not very cute next to my lilies and roses :(

Gaye from the Hunter said...

hi Randi,

I laughed about your comment about stinkhorns not looking cute next to your lilies.

And, I also do not always notice a stench associated with stinkhorns. In fact, the only one that I have found to be extremely offensive in odour is one which I have not yet featured on my blog.

Thank you for leaving a comment. I'm pleased to know that my blog is getting out across the world.

Cheers
Gaye

Laura Fitzpatrick said...

Hi I live near San Francisco in the East Bay where we are currently having a drought but my garden is heavily mulched. I bought some bags of mulchy soil conditioner and one bag smelled funny. I used it anyway and I now have a huge crop of smelly lantern fungi in one area which I am digging out as they emerge. I remembered learning about them in a botany class but I'm not happy about them in my garden. If I water less will they go dormant or something? I would like to get rid of them. Thanks for the pictures and info.

Gaye from the Hunter said...

hello Laura,

whenever I have found stinkhorn fungi, it has been after a shower of rain, or prolonged periods of rain, so I think you should be on the mark by denying them water to prevent the continuing appearance of fruit bodies.

I have never had any stinkhorn fungi come up in my gardens at home, so I have no personal experience of this, just field observations.

I'm sorry I can't be of more help. Thank you very much for leaving a comment, and I hope you have success.

Regards
Gaye

Emjrfan88 said...

Hey I found those Lantern Fungi in my backyard this morning! I didn't know what the heck it was so I searched Google and found this site. It was identical to the Lanterns you described. Egg like sacks barely below the ground level and emanating from these were the crab-leg type spikes. I live in Yucaipa CA and this is strange! Hope this is of use!

Gaye from the Hunter said...

hi Emjrfan88,

it is indeed interesting to know that Lantern Fungi are fruiting in California. Thank you very much for leaving a comment.

Regards
Gaye

HelenAngel said...

Thank you so much for this blog post with pictures! I've noticed several Phallus rubicundus in our yard but had NO idea what they were (and I'd never, ever seen it before). I thought, at first, that some kid pranksters were putting foam darts in our yard! However, that didn't explain why they seemed to disintegrate when I stepped on them. Eventually I figured it had to be some sort of mushroom or fungus, so I searched until I found this blog and- low and behold- there was the mystery stuff in our yard! We have quite a few of them that appear randomly in our front yard but no problem with flies and I don't notice the smell unless I get very close to them. By afternoon they've already dried out in the hot Missouri heat (I live in Kennett, Missouri, US) and are barely noticeable.

Thank you so much for helping me figure out what the mystery things in my yard were! =)

Gaye from the Hunter said...

hello HelenAngel,

thank you for your comment, and I apologise for the delay in posting it and responding - I have been away from home for a month (with no internet).

I am pleased to be building up a picture of the whereabouts of these interesting life forms around the globe.

Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment.

Cheers
Gaye

katels said...

Hi Gaye, I work in a preschool and we recently found a few stinkhorns in our playground. I only just discovered what they were called and was wondering if they are dangerous/poisonous and if we should organise someone to come and remove the mulch they are in, or just keep digging up the ones we see and telling the children not to touch them?

Anonymous said...

Gaye,

Great site! Thanks to you, we were able to identify the stinkhorn, Phallus rubicundus, that appeared yesterday in one of our flower beds. Never seen anything like it.

Thanks,

Jim
(Nokesville, Virginia...near Washington, DC)

Gaye from the Hunter said...

hi Katels,

my apologies for the delay in responding to you.

I don't believe there would be a great deal of benefit in removing all the mulch as the microscopic fungi threads will have weaved there way into the soil.

There appear to be conflicting reports on the toxicity of stinkhorn fungi. Although I believe there should be no harm, I would strongly suggest you remove the fungi (shovel into garbage) while they are fresh. Before removing them, I would suggest you give the children a nature lesson and get the message across that fungi should be admired, but not touched.

My grandchildren know of my keen interest in fungi, and I have taught them to look but "as some fungi are poisonous and will make you sick if you touch them, we are to be sure not to touch any of them". I do not want my grandchildren to be fearful of fungi, but just careful.

Thank you for your comment.

Regards
Gaye

Gaye from the Hunter said...

Thank you Jim for leaving a comment, and your location. Most interesting.

Regards
Gaye

sherry said...

Hi!
We live in Morristown, New Jersey, USA, and found this orange finger like growth all over our front garden which is loaded with mulch! My husband and I went outside to get a closer look and we both were a bit freaked out as it was sprouting up all over the place, we thought Sigourney Weaver would be popping up any minute! I think "Stinkhorn" is a great name for it! It's not necessarily offensive, but it is distinct.

Thank you so much for all of your research, I'm relieved to know it won't harm anything. I am curious however to know if it is at all harmful to touch? We have three very young children who get into everything, should we be concerned?

Thank you,
Sherry

Anonymous said...

We have found these horrible little creature in the dry Texas Panhandle and would love to get rid of them. I have never smelled such a nasty smell in my life. We have small dogs and are afraid they might get ahold of one of these stink horns. How can we kill them off?

Tricia said...

Hello Gayle,

I was relieved to find your site, as we found this weird fungi in our garden this morning. What was of extreme interest to me was that this fungi seems to have originated in Australia and we are from Niagara Falls Canada...

Anonymous said...

Hi Gayle. Ugh..what a relief. You should have seen me going outside every few days to dig up what I now know are stinkhorns. I thought they would turn into millions of grubs that I would have to battle during the spring. I live in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA and the 2 bed they sprouted up in are shady, moist and mulched. Glad to know they will do no harm but I certainly will not be touching them. They are definately interesting but I hope they go away soon.

Tara

Gator said...

I'm sorry but the Lantern Fungus that I found in my mulched garden this morning had to go. While it was very interesting to look at, the stench of having it sitting beside me while I was having coffee outside was too much.

I took a photo of it before I removed it from the garden.

http://i50.tinypic.com/30blk3s.jpg

I live in Lambton, NSW. Your blog helped me to clearly identify it before I removed it.

Gaye from the Hunter said...

Hello Gator,

I'm glad you found my site, and was able to identify your fungus. They certainly pong, and you have done no harm to the variety of the environment by removing it - the real fungus lives below the ground. The fruiting fungus that we see in our gardens and in the wild, is simply the reproduction part of the fungus.

Thank you very much for leaving a comment here, as it is very interesting to me and to other readers to collate information about fungus. Interesting to know that you are local too - the recent rain, followed by the humidity makes perfect conditions for fungi to send up fruiting bodies.

Regards,
Gaye

Gaye from the Hunter said...

PS, Gator, the URL to your picture doesn't work properly - perhaps you could post it up again please.

Gaye

deb said...

I am from St. Louis, MO and you have now helped me identify the very strange bright orange thing protruding up in my garden. We have had so much rain this year, I am not surprised to find new kinds of fungus. (New to me, anyway). Thanks for your help in identifying!

-Deb

Gaye from the Hunter said...

Hello Deb,

I'm glad my fungi post could help you identify the strange stinkhorn fungus peeping up in your garden. They really are weird and somewhat scary growths when first encountered, but fascinating.

Thank you for leaving your comment.

Regards,
Gaye

ryan said...

Hello I live in Edmonton Alberta Canada and your blog helped me identify the long red tipped foam like growth I had growing around a tree stump in my yard thank you

Gaye from the Hunter said...

Hello Ryan from Canada,

thank you for leaving a comment, and I'm glad my blog could help your identification. Stinkhorns are certainly strange and mysterious things when first encountered.

Cheers,
Gaye

Anonymous said...

Hi Gaye,

Thanks for your website. We live in Pasadena, California and today we found Lantern Fungi in our front lawn. For us it's been a mild summer so far, but I wouldn't call it humid. From what I understand, they like moisture. We've been watering our lawn quite a bit this summer. I'm wondering if we cut back on the watering and let out lawn dry out that this might eliminate our new new visitors?

Gaye from the Hunter said...

Hello to Pasadena, California,

I'm glad my website was able to help you identify your fungus. Less water will probably eliminate some fruit bodies of the fungus, but the underground mycelium (which is the main body of the fungus) will live on, sending up fruit bodies to reproduce when conditions are right (when it rains).

I'm sorry I can't be of more help to you.

Regards,
Gaye

Crissy said...

Hi Gaye,

Thank you so much for this website. Like others, it's help me identify this strange alien looking thing growing in my flower bed. I live in the Kansas City, Missouri area. I didn't think these were in the US. It's been an extremely hot and humid summer. It finally rains today and I walked up and jumped back a little bit when I saw these things. I thought it was some aliens fingers. Ha ha. But now I know what it is. Thanks again! I've never seen these here and I've been here my whole life.

Thanks.
Crissy

Gaye from the Hunter said...

Hello Crissy from Kansas City,

thank you for leaving a comment. It's extremely interesting to know where these strange stinkhorns pop up around the world. Yes, and I agree, they are at first like aliens poking fingers up through the earth investigating our world :)

Cheers,
Gaye

Anonymous said...

Hi Gaye,
Thanks for your blog photos - we have just found a red-fingered star fungus in our front garden in Merewether, Newcastle. The garden is fairly heavily mulched with bark chips so I am guessing the spores came in with them.
Joanne in Merewether

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the info on this site about these very odd "creatures" growing up in our garden beds. We just recently saw them but figure we have had them for a while as we have been inundated with flies in that area and couldn't figure out what they've been after. They do smell but it's not bad unless we are actively digging them up. We wouldn't mind them except for the huge fly population they are attracting, making our outdoor patio almost unusable. Any helpful info on eradicating the stinkhorns would be appreciated!

Anonymous said...

Hi,
I have been searching online to Id this weird thing in my garden.
I have quite a collection of stinkhorns in my heavily mulched garden , I will relax now nad just observe how they grow, and enjoy them

Anonymous said...

Hi Gaye
It is great to finally work out what this fungus is. We live in Hornsby in Sydney, Australia and they have been popping up all over our lawn and in our garden beds since about April. They are driving us bananas as we have 2 little children who find them fascinating and want to get a hold of them - yuk! We have been here 3 years and this is the first year we have seen them.
Thanks
Emma

Anonymous said...

Thank you. We found we had the aging Lantern Stinkhorn with spreading arms, in Southeast Texas. Unfortunately our resident Rooster pecked it, I would have liked to see it intact, at the end of the day. Still. A nice story of wierd science, for the family. Thanks a bunch.

Gaye said...

Hello to readers from Texas, Hornsby, Merewether, and other unknown places - thank you all very much for your comments.

I'm pleased that my blog could be of help in identifying these weird fungi, and I hope all have enjoyed there brief and somewhat intrusive visit in their gardens :)

Cheers,
Gaye

Anonymous said...

Hi there. Last weekend I found a starhorn in a forest in the Underberg South Africa. I was quite intrigued and after extensive searching managed to id it. I'm not sure how to load photos or i would post one of it.

Rob

Anonymous said...

hi i have a scan of a stinkhorn fungus i founfd in narrandera. IT has white stem and orange top with what looks like tenticles. have not been able to find anything quite like it on the internet. may be a bit kike a starfish in the top definately stinks adn initially had the remains of a ball on the base in the grass the tenticles look as though they have been chopped by a mower diziliz@bigpond.com how do i send you a copy

Carol said...

Have enjoyed reading your comments and blogs. Our local paper here in south east South Carolina runs a 'mystery plant' every week. This week's was Aseroe rubra. After battling these terribly smelly things for the past 3 years I was relieved to finally see what they are. Mine have all but one appeared in my cyprus mulch areas. I dig them up. Have tried ammonia, bleach, malathion. Nothing kills these darned things. Even replaced all my mulch last fall. Just dig them up, folks!

Tom said...

Wonderful post! I'm yet another person who wanted to get rid of my foul-smelling stink horn mushrooms in my mulched flower bed and finally did. I had to remove the old mulch and clean out the bed pretty thoroughly (essentially starting from scratch)... I have a complete write-up of how I managed to get rid of stink horn mushrooms in my mulch.

Samantha said...

Thanks so much for this wonderful page. Our local library (in Kandos, central west NSW) used to have spectacular "poo on sticks" fungi growing in their rose garden (which was mulched with wood chips). I finally decided to search Google for an ID today, and it took me about 30 seconds to find the definitive ID here: Phallus rubicundus. Fantastic!

kuhnjessica@hotmail.com said...

Hi, this is a great site and yes! the photo and description of the Phallus rubicundus were just perfect and helped me to identify three of these fungi in my garden which, of course, had been mulched with wood chips. Could not figure out what the hey they were, but now I know. Thanks so much. (oh, my home is in southern New Jersey, USA. We get hot summers with notoriously high humidity, that sends everyone fleeing to the Atlantic shore towns for relief). Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Hi there

I live in a small town in central Queensland and have found these in my garden. Thank you for helping me identify them! I was a little worried as I have small children but alas, nothing to worry about. Thanks again. Nikki

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this blog and including pictures. I had to google "red stick fungus with sticky brown top" to find it, but finally I was able to identify what was growing out of the mulch around our home. It's been a very wet summer and early fall here in central New Jersey, USA and I guess the conditions were right for these "stink horns" to grow and multiply. I had never seen these before in all of my 39 years and was wondering what they were, if they were poisonous, and am still wondering if there's a way to eradicate them. (They do stink!)

jo said...

Hi, I left a comment a couple of years ago, for I too was experiencing these strange looking fungi in my mulch beds. I had never seen them before but all of a sudden in the spring/summer of 2008 they started popping up in my neighborhood in South Jersey. I always made sure I dug them up and the strange egg-like bulbs that are under the ground because I thought they were unsightly. I never thought they were poisonous, it just never crossed my mind, until one day, several days after I had surgery, and I saw two in the mulch bed but being sore I just thought to myself that I will have to get rid of them when I feel better. Well, long story, short, my 13 pound dog ate the tops of them unbeknownst to me until much later I noticed the tops were gone, he got very sick, his back legs were dragging, he got sick and quickly, my husband got him into the car and drove him to emergency vet hospital and after him coding 3 times he just couldn't fight it anymore. After much research these fungi that everyone thinks are so cool looking are poisonous to small dogs and cats. Several months later my neighbor, several doors down, unfortunately had the same experience after his beagle ate some of these stinkhorn fungi. So please beware animal owners, they might be kind of neat or whatever but YES, they are poisonous to animals. I do not want any animal owner to have to suffer the same loss I did or any animal suffer the way my little doxie did.

Anonymous said...

thanks for your information, I found latern fungus in my garden. I live in Connells Point NSW.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gaye, Just found some Starfish Fungi under my lavender bush. Have never seen it before and am grateful for your blog which enabled me to identify it. I also noticed the bad smell and just assumed it would be poisonous. I will keep destroying it to protect my neighbours friendly pets. I live on the Far South Coast of NSW Australia in Tuross Head
Regards Leonie

Gaye said...

Hello to Connells Point and Tuross Head, thank you for information on your sightings of stinkhorn fungi.

Regards,
Gaye

Anonymous said...

i live in columbia south carolina,and really got nervous when my 7 yr old found alot of this red finger fungus,never saw it before,and its all around my storage shed under some honeysuckel,and they have been growing there for the past three months of cold weather,i dont live near a forest or a swamp.

Gaye said...

Hello to South Carolina, thank you for your sighting information.

Cheers,
Gaye

Beth Sneyd said...

Thanks for your blog! After searching many websites, I found yours. Now I know what those strange tube-like things are with flies all over them. I also found a lump of something that looked like a deflated river rock. Is that the egg?
And when pulling weeds I came across two white balls that resembled Playdoh. They were soft when I pinched at them, and they were attached to the roots of a weed.
We live in Southern California. Thanks for identifying our stinkhorn.

Anonymous said...

Well I'm in St louis Missouri and a have one flower bed mulched with wood chips and your site let me know what these topic symbols arer Snd boy do they stink. Seems the faster I pick or destroy them the faster they ca
Ome back. God they stink. Thank for the help.

Anonymous said...

Greetings from Sunny California Gaye.
So, My son and I are in the garden this morning, he's 5 years old, and he proclaims "Dad, Look! A weird mushroom!!" After inspection I realized this was no ordinary "mushroom" and headed directly to Google to enlighten myself, thus to your most informative and entertaining site. Upon learning the name and distinct characteristics of this foreign fungus I reentered our humble backyard armed with the knowledge of what we were now dealing with. "Here Son" I said as I carefully pinched the top a little to reveal some spore mass "have a gentle sniff of this" he reacted with an exclamation of "phew...smells like Poop Dad"
Needless to say he has been endlessly amused now knowing there is a plant growing in his very own backyard called Stinkhorn, that truly does live up to its name !

Unless I am mistaken, we are now host to a family of Phallus rubicundus. Thank you very much for helping us solve the mystery...and have a nice day :)

Anonymous said...

Hello, I live near Orlando Florida and found one of these strange growths in my front flower bed/garden. It smelled like a dead animal had crawled into the garden and died and I was afraid to get too close because of what I might find. Finally I got the courage to step in and look around and found what you have described. I dug it up, threw it in a bag and threw it away, and cleaned up the garden of some other smelly fruit/seeds being dropped from the palm tree. Smells much better now. The stinkhorn that was growing looked like fingers growing out of the soil sideways. The strangest looking thing I've ever seen growing in my garden. The area is on the south and warmest and wettest side of my house, and it has been well mulched and I have dug trenches to bury vegetable food scraps to enrich the soil. Do you think the food scraps caused this to grow, as I have never seen one grow where there was only mulch?

Gaye said...

Hello to the reader from Orlando Florida,

thank you for leaving a comment on my blog.

No, the burial of vegetable scraps will not have caused the fungus to grow. There must have been spores in the soil or mulch, or mycelium (fungal filaments that grow underground)already present for the fungus to grow.

Regards,
Gaye

Anonymous said...

Hi from Conway, Sc just west of Myrtle Beach. I keep getting the lantern fungus popping up in my back yard. I am close to a river and have been filling in a large circle footprint of a pool with leaves for the past four years and this is the first year I have had the unfortunate pleasure of seeing and smelling them!! Are they poisonous?? Can I get rid of them?? Thanks for your page and pics you have made it easy to find and id them on the internet!!!

Andre Jagger said...

Andre from Parramatta : I noticed a single Lantern Fungus fruiting body at Jubilee Park close to the entrance off of Parkes St. Parramatta. It is 17th February 2013 and the Summer has been moist of recent. I notice to in similar post rain conditions the presence of deteriorated remains of Anemone Fungi in St. John's Cemetery off of O'Connell St. Parramatta.

Gaye said...

Hello Andre,

thank you very much for recording your observations here on my blog.

Regards,
Gaye

Anonymous said...

Hi Gaye!

Sam from Guildford (NSW, not WA) here.

This morning I noticed two Lantern Fungi fruiting bodies (aging) in close proximity to each other on the South side of my back garden. Slugs had had a good much on the stem part, lucky them. Interesting thing is there's no "artificial" mulch in that part of the garden, instead there's simply rich humous consisting of rotted leaves, twigs and bark, mostly from a large Chinese Elm and a Port Wine Magnolia. The recent wet, stormy tropical low we've had in Sydney following persistent late Summer rains, and the corresponding earlier hot, dry weather has probably triggered a mad dash for this fungus to bloom.

However... it was the cat poo smell that drew me in to investigate and now has me making sense of prior occasions when I had blamed the family cat for a felonious odour entirely not of her producing!

I don't share many of your North American commentors' aversion to the fungi either for their debatable toxicity or odious smell and neither for their potential for interrupting a perfectly mulched and manicured non-biodiverse garden vista. I am of course referring to the fungi, not North Americans, of course. ; ' p

Being a keen gardener since a wee whip of a lad, I'm cognizant of how things can take on a bit of a whiff, and I take due care in the garden to avoid the usual hazards, including gumnuts in one's boots. Alarmingly, the most dangerous place to be is the great indoors, and most human and family pet poisonings originate from the kitchen. Pure, simple common sense (caution) is the best defence against possible harm when encountering some unkown quantity in the garden or the bush, perhaps even the workplace. Gotta love a universal truth... but I digress.

Now I know what Lantern Fungus is I don't care about the smell. To have identified and now know that I have something as fascinating as this in my garden, I feel proud, but I've also righted a terrible wrong and apologised to my cat Rose for all her derisive stinky reprimands.

Kind, brilliantly and elegantly red fungal fruiting-bodied regards,

Sam. (•¿-)

Rebecca - Brisbane said...

Hi Gaye

Just a quick note to let you know that with all this rain we in Brisbane have been having, I've had some Phallus Rubicundus pop up in my fairly newly mulched garden. Have never seen them before after living in Brisbane and Sydney but was fascinated to see them! Botanical Gardens said no need to remove unless we have pets (which we don't).

Cheers
Beck

Anonymous said...

Hello!

A friend found a Starfish Fungus growing in the mulch of a small garden in Columbia, South Carolina in the US. Thank you for helping us to identify it! Your blog was very useful!

Victoria Aguilar said...

Hi there. I ran across your webpage and found it rather interesting as I was trying to figure out the flesh like mutant looking thing growing in my grass. Your pictures where VERY helpful in allowing me to identify what it was. I believe ours is a lantern type. We live in sunny california so I am not sure how rare or un rare that is. Thanks so much

Victoria Aguilar said...

I forgot to add that I have counted about 25 of these now

Anonymous said...

This morning I discovered a very strange plant growing in 1 of my large flower pots (I know it was not there yesterday, and today it's a few inches tall). From your pictures, it appears to be a lantern fungus. I saw you'd asked about people letting you know where they were finding these. I live in Knoxville, Tennessee, in the southeast United States. I'm glad you have this site since finding that fungus (I've never seen anything like it) was very alarming. It's nice to see I don't have to worry about it.

Katie said...

Wow... I'm amazed. I had some unsightly stinkhorn pop up in my mulch around my lillies. At first I noticed the eggs you mentioned around the beginning of spring. Now I have these ugly things everywhere! I have not noticed an odor (& don't plan to get much closer) and they do have a pretty quick life cycle. We had a wetter than average spring so maybe that's I'm just now experiencing these in the mid-atlantic region in the U.S. (Richmond, Virginia) Thanks for this helpful information!

Dee said...

Gaye,
I was so surprised to find your blog! I was a little freaked out when I saw two stinkhorns today! I live on a farm south of Chicago.,Il. I was very appreciative for the info on your blog as I wasn't sure what to think of those "things"! Felt relieved to hear its just a fungus...helpful info about the pets since these things are growing next to dog pen in mulch.

Anonymous said...

Thanks - you just helped us identify the "weird red fugus thingy" in our backyard in Belmont North NSW (we are near the largest and most western waterholes in the Belmont Wetlands area)

Anonymous said...

Hello. Thank you for your very informative blog!

My husband spied this growing in our flower bed this morning. Fortunately for us, your blog popped up in the search for whatever it might be.

It's been unusually wet & warm here and we had no clue what was growing alongside my stargazer lily. Thanks to you, we now know. We are in the New England area and have never seen this in our gardens before. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Wow so glad I found this site I was sure somewhere in my front garden was a dead cat or dog but when I ventured out the front saw these weird alien like eggs with red things growing out .
Now I know what they are thankyou ...,,,
We have had a lot of rain over the last couple of months on the Gold Coast
Christine

Anonymous said...

Hi Andre

we have been getting these in a native garden. My dog actively sniffs them out and breaks them up (not sure if she is actually eating them). Would rather she found truffles instead ;-)
We are at Shailer Park in SE Qld, about halfway between Bris and the Gold Coast.
Ed

Jessica Kilmon said...

Hi from Wilmington, Delaware! This is the second time that this fungus has grown in my yard. The phallus one. I do not know how you can say that the smell is not so bad! It is downright hellacious!! We only have one so far and it's horrible. I hope there aren't going to be anymore. I know there will be...one of these is enough though! Take care.
~Jessica

Susan C. said...

Hi Susan from Campbelltown NSW,
I have dug out two Lantern Fungi from beneath our Jacaranda tree in our buffalo lawn only yesterday. It has been quite hot and humid the last few days. We had one come up in the lawn around about the same time last year and thought at the time that it was a one off freaky thing. It is only by looking up your blog site that I realise that we are not alone and according to you, fortunate!

Craig Hulbert said...

Found one of these on our footpath in Maitland NSW, and upon a closer look found about six of them in the garden at various stages of growth. I was looking up what they were when we found this blog.

Anonymous said...

My 2 yr old found our lanturn stink horn growing in our front yard in Woodberry nsw after the big thunder storm that went from approx 1 till 11:30 in the morning. it was the weirdest thing ever to look at and i took photo's but it is different from all of the the one's that i've see so far, but also that same in majority of ways. The difference is that it does have a horn like figure coming out of it's top in the same texture as it's stem. And then there is this really slimmy 'slug' like texture in it's divisions, so inviting to look at, but not touch. It has almost shrivelled 1day later with it's divisions being sucked up by the flies.
Glad i found out what it is as it would have played on my mind for a very long time ;)

Anonymous said...

hi Gaye,

we found a pink stinkhorn in our garden today in woodchips, we live near Parramatta. I was hoping to eat it until I found your blog and was able to identify it!! Many thanks for the good info and can see this has been a popular blog topic for many years..

cheers + thanks,
Good health

Mark.

Anonymous said...

Good morning,

I noticed the Phallus rubicundus popping up in my front yard yesterday. Never had seen them before, been in the house 3 years. Definitely an oddity but at least now I know what it is. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hey,

Greetings from Toronto and thanks for the informative blog.

I will tell the kids at school tomorrow that the alien tentacles growing out of the wood chips are actually phallus rubicundus....

Rob said...

I just noticed this in my front mulchy area. It's the phallus looking one. I live in New Jersey . I wound up kicking it and it broke right off.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gaye

Thankfully I found your blog as we have had these strange Lantern Fungi appearing in our garden and had no idea what they were. We are located in Qld (Gold Coast) so not sure if commonly found here. Hopefully they will go away!!

Anonymous said...

Hi,
I just saw the Phallus rubicundus in my garden in eastern Tennessee, USA last night and was baffled as to what it could be. After hunting around the internet, your blog solved the mystery! Thanks for the great info and pictures.

moxp said...

I am in southern Ontario and this fall is the first time I ever have seen a Stinkhorn. I happened across a large load of free, low grade mulch for my garden in early summer and expect from this write-up that this is why I have them. When I 'googled' unusual tubular red fungus, the pictures of this article came up immediately and both were very informative.

Anonymous said...

November 14th, 33degrees with snow flurries here near Smokey Mountains and just identified a stinkhorn in my mulched rose bed!

Anonymous said...

Hi Gaye, fabulous information, we've just encountered a lantern stinkhorn in our garden today, Jan 27, 2015, Sydney. First time I've seen one, first time in our garden, it is growing out of our garden bed (not in mulch) but through a weed sheet with stones on! Unfortunately I picked it up thinking it was some dead stuff blown in with the wind, it was only afterwards after looking what was in my hand I realised it was a fungus and it STINKS! I have seen the anemone fungus in the blue mountains in February 2009, and today was able to pinpoint the exact name through your blog. Thanks again. Carole :)

Claire said...

Thanks very much for helping me to identify the stinkhorn (great name!) growing in my lawn. I've taken your advice and enjoyed looking at it while it lasted. I live on the northern beaches in NSW.