Monday, January 18, 2010

Elegant Stinkhorn Mushroom (Mutinus elegans, M. caninus, & M. ravenelii)

In the Texas Hill Country, folks just walk out of the door when they want to see unbridled nature.

Like the red penises growing in my front agave bed.

Really; they're in the order Phallales.  One  fungus in the Mutinus genus is sometimes called Devil's dipstick.  Other monikers are Elegant stinkhorn and Dog stinkhorn.  The fruiting body (red penis-looking thing) grows out of a structure resembling an egg (seen mid-picture above and at right).  Where there is one, there are or will be more.  From the looks of my agave bed, MANY more. 

I am not alone in hosting a riot of red pointy things in my yard.  The fungus is often seen in bark mulch in Eastern US home landscapes. 

Some/most stinkhorns emit a foul odor from a slimy tip on the penis.  Maybe I haven't been there at the right time, but no stench wafted up as I held my delicate nostrils above the clutch in my garden as I took these pictures.

Folks who have an exotic palate might be interested to know that some species are considered a delicacy/aphrodisiac in China, eaten in the "egg" stage or fruiting stage (after removal of the slimy tip), either fresh or dried.  If this appeals to you, let me know how it was. 

Life is never boring in the Texas Hill Country.

My thanks to Sally Moon, who writes About Olive, New York, a blog about living in the beautiful Catskill Mountains, for pointing me toward the ID.

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