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September 2017

A night of thunderstorms and lovely torrential rain to bring life back to our rather dried up world. The combination of warmth and wet, just perfect for the growth of fungi.

During my usual early morning wander through the wood, over lush, vibrant grass and abundant vegetation, I was suddenly aware of an intense smell. No longer the delightful scent of Nature’s freshness, but a strong smell of rotting flesh. Maybe a dead animal? A casualty from the nearby road? But despite a search, nothing was found, until I finally spotted the culprit, a beautiful group of Stink Horn fungi. What a very apt name, this unique organism which projects a rotting flesh smell to attract flies to disperse its spores.

About Stink Horns

They are an amazing fungus. They develop in only a few hours when the conditions of warmth and temperature are right. They grow from a hard “egg”, a white ball which sits within the leaf litter of woodlands or gardens. The delicate spongy stalk has a conical honeycombed cap, covered in a dark green slimy mass of spores. The slime smells like carrion and attracts flies which disperse the spores to other areas.

It is incredible sight if you get the chance to see the fungus in full-smelly state as the flies just cover it in their enthusiasm to feed on the slime. Sometimes it is difficult to believe that there is actually a fungus underneath them such a mass of moving shapes.

It is said that the “egg” stage is edible and probably is for brave individuals who are willing to give it a try.

Quick identification facts:

Size: 10 to 20cm tall

Colour: White egg shape at the base, white stem with green-brown cap

Habitat: Damp woodland and gardens

Stink Horn Fungi

Newly emerged Stink Horn Fungus from the ‘Egg’ now displaced to the right of the picture