Thursday, October 13, 2011

Stinkhorn Fungus

On Monday, October 4, I mowed the grass. On Tuesday, Tom found this in the front yard. I wondered if I had, fortunately, not run a mower wheel  over it or if it had grown there overnight.

I told Tom I thought it was a dog stinkhorn. I was fairly sure I had seen one other fungi like this. I have been learning from naturalists for over thirty years and I vaguely remembered a naturalist identifying it.

The drawing in my copy of Non-Flowering Plants, A Golden Guide, looked similar to the one in our yard, but not exactly like it. I supposed that, like most species in nature, there were a number of similar related species. Although the fungi is called stinkhorn, the write-up in the book said this species did not have a strong odor. My nose isn't as discriminating as it once was but from eighteen inches away, I didn't notice a smell. I decided to use the stinkhorn for this week's blog but I didn't start further research until tonight. (8 PM on Wednesday). I wish I had started on Tuesday. I might have found the egg-like structure these fungi sprout from. Instead I took photos of the fungi nearly every day, watching it grow more and more callused and shriveled

One day I saw small flies and an ant on the fungi. I wondered if they were feeding on it. Tonight, when I finally did some on-line research, I learned that the stinkhorns attract insects with the spore-soaked slime with which they cover themselves. The insects carry off the spores which can then produce another stinkhorn somewhere else.

I also learned that the stinkhorns grow in just a few hours so the stinkhorn had appeared since I had mowed on Monday.

Two sources I consulted were MushroomExpert.Com and America's COOLEST Mushrooms -  Both have a lot of additional interesting information about the stinkhorns.

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