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Discussion in 'Fungi, Lichens and Slime Molds' started by Eric La Fountaine, Dec 3, 2004.
The following scary thing was sent to us via email:
What is this growing "thing"?
Well, that is an unsightly little what-ever-the-heck isn't it? That could scare the green out of a gardener. Actually I think it is a fungus; possibly a stinkhorn that has not emerged yet. I would like to know what it smells like (I don't want to smell it myself, because I assume it stinks). Take a look at this earlier thread from the forums. Go to Daniel's third link, titled stinkhorns, and see how they look like little eggs until the body emerges.
If that is not it, then what the heck is that "thing"?
My first thought when I looked at the picture was "Stinkhorn", so I agree with the guesstimate ID. That's exactly how they look when you come across them in the woods. The smell increases when the egg bursts open. You usually smell them before you see them.
I also think it's a stinkhorn. However it is difficult to say which one, since it is still in the egg stage. Here are some poor quality photos (i shot them out of a book and my flash kept getting in the way). . A photo of an egg of Phallus impudicus sliced in half. The Mutinus elegans (dog stinkhorn) has no head. Dictyophora indusiata ( Basket stinkhorn ) has the netting around it. And finally the Phallus impudicus (stinkhorn) which has a head on it.
Regardless, they all stink, which is what attracts the insects, who carry the spores about and help to propagate the species. Some say it is good for the garden since it draws all the bugs to it and away from your other plants. Of course you have to put up with the smell! Years ago in southern Italy I tracked a dog stinkhorn down from 2 blocks away.