Saturday, October 31, 2020

Weird Fungi - 2

 It's Hallowe'en..... spooks are abroad and the woods are filled with scary things....

One of them starts with what looks like an egg pushing up through the ground:

Barely 2" across, it seems to have a slightly crinkled surface. It's white, more or less, and dry-looking. It doesn't change for several weeks. Eventually, one day, it begins to grow:

The top splits and an odd little white process appears. The surface has darkened and split. More days go by. It's getting cold at night, but underground much is happening. Our Egg is preparing itself for a sudden burst of growth:

The Egg splits completely open and a spongy white stalk with a slimy brownish-greenish knob on top elongates:

Unlike practically every other plant (or fungus) in the woods, it grows in an ominous curve. Quickly, almost overnight, it reaches it's full growth:

Growing horizontally across the ground, surrounded by fallen leaves and twigs, our weird Fungus #2 turns out to be a Stinkhorn.

Stinkhorns are so-called because, well, because they stink. Get your sniffer close to the 'knob' and you'll wish you hadn't! The smell, very unpleasant to us humans, attracts flies. The flies pick up spores from the slimy top and carry them to new locations, thus spreading the fungus around. The spores are produced in huge numbers and form the slimy surface of the 'knob'. The 'Egg' was an early stage in the fruiting body's development and, when cut open, shows the eventual structure in embryonic form. It is fairly common, growing on rotting logs or wood chips.

And yes, the man who named it agreed with what I'm sure you are thinking! He named the genus Phallus, and since his name was Ravenel, it's now Phallus Ravenelii, that is, Ravenel's Phallus

His response to this bit of taxonomic teasing has not been recorded.

Have a Happy, Safe, and Spooky Hallowe'en!

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