Wednesday, 23 July 2008

#30 Phallus rubicundus

This pink, orange or red stinkhorn fungus is shaped like a spike or rod, or as the name indicates, is phallic in shape. It grows to about 150mm high and often pops up in lawns, gardens, potplants or mulch.

The matchbox gives an indication of size
of this collapsed Phallus rubicundus


An orange specimen of Phallus rubicundus


This stinkhorn fungus can be distinguished from Mutinus elegans by having separate head holding the brown spore-bearing matter.

As with all stinkhorn fungi, Phallus rubicundus starts out as a gelatinous egg-like structure from which the fruiting body emerges. The fragile hollow stem is perforated, and if sliced horizontally, will be roughly circular. Somewhat sponge-like in texture, it is soft to the touch and will break easily. More information at Mushroom Expert.

The sponge-like texture


The slimy spore-bearing head is separate from the body -
this is an important identifying feature


The interior is hollow and roughly circular.
Notice the stinkhorn "egg" and thin strands of hyphae


The spore-bearing cap has dislodged and slipped down


My sightings of Phallus rubicundus

[This will be updated with new sightings]

Hunter Region Botanic Gardens - Heatherbrae - in mulched gardens, May.

Beresfield Crematorium - in mulched gardens and leaf litter, Dec.

Collapsed and decaying Phallus rubicundus


63 comments:

Mosura said...

Excellent! You get some great fungi there and your photos illustrate them well.

Duncan said...

Terrific Gaye, must confess I've never seen one.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Gaye. Great post, as usual.
I note you comment on the spore-bearing cap slipping down the stem. That might explain some of Chai's puzzlement from last week.
As with Duncan, I have not ever seen these Fungi.
Cheers
Denis

Robert V. Sobczak said...

Mineral, water, or plant. In this case neither. Fungii are fun because they are hard to categorize, and defy the broad brush generalizations we try to categorize things by. It looks poisonous, too.

Gaye from the Hunter said...

hi all,

thank you for your comments. My apologies for the delay in posting and responding, as I have been away.

Cheers
Gaye

Anonymous said...

I was searching on the internet to find something that related to what I have found growing in my garden this morning in Bensalem, PA. 4 of these, ugly and odd looking and totally out of place. Glad to hear that they are from Austrailia, just wondering how they got here!

Gaye from the Hunter said...

Hello Anonymous from Bensalem, PA.

I am unsure if this stinkhorn fungus is native to Australia, and if it is native to any other countries. Sorry I can not be of more help.

Fungi can be transported around the world via soil and mulch (contained in imported/exported plant material).

Thank you for leaving a comment, and if at any time I discover reliable information relating to the origin of this species, I will post it up here.

Cheers
Gaye

Janelle said...

Ahh! I have them in my landscaping in Omaha, Nebraska, United States. So disgusting. For some reason, they creep me out, so I'm going to dig up that section tonight. :-)

Anonymous said...

Can this fungus be found in America? I swear, I have the same stuff growing in my mulch beds and I live in Charlotte North Carolina. It's so gross.

Gaye from the Hunter said...

Any more comments from the world would be very much appreciated, as well as those from Australia.

Regards,
Gaye

beth said...

I too have them in my garden in Dimondale, Michigan. Yuck!

Gaye from the Hunter said...

Hello Beth,

it's great to hear about overseas sightings. Thank you for leaving a comment.

Regards,
Gaye

Joe D said...

I have/had them in my mulch bed in front of my house in Woodbridge, NJ. The "eggs" look/feel like balls of mozzerella cheese.

I dug them all out last night and replaced with new "Black forrest" mulch. The mulch we previously had was also black.

Gaye from the Hunter said...

Hello Joe,

thank you for your New Jersey (I am presuming 'NJ' is New Jersey) sighting. It is also interesting to note the substrate, mulch in your case. Thank you.

I will be interested to learn if you have this fungus fruiting in your new mulch in the years to come, and would be most grateful if you could leave a comment here with regards to this, sometime in the future. I will be surprised indeed if you have eradicated the fungus from your garden, but will be keen to hear of your experiences with this.

Regards,
Gaye

Anonymous said...

Hello,

I am from New Brunswick, Canada and I was working on a property and found this type of fungus. I have never seen it before so I came home after work to look it up- which led me here. It was disgusting.

Gaye from the Hunter said...

Hello to New Brunswick Canada. Thank you for letting me know of your find. Interesting. Yes, I guess they could be thought of as disgusting, but they still have a purpose - ie: decomposition of organic material, and therefore fertilising the soil, so they are helpful to we humans :)

Cheers,
Gaye

Anonymous said...

I was glad to find your pictures. The dead version pictures are exactly what I have in the mulch around my tree in Minnesota. I have not seen the living, stand up version yet, nor have I ever seen these before in my yard. Thanks.

Gaye from the Hunter said...

Hello Minnesota,

I'm glad my pictures were able to help you identify the strange forms in your garden. I think it is important to show the dead or dying versions of fungi, as well as the immature, as they often look so much different to the mature fungus that is normally pictured.

Thank you for leaving a comment here.

Cheers,
Gaye

Anonymous said...

These have been popping up throughout the spring and summer. I believe that the spore were transported in black mulch as others have noted. NY,NY

Sharon said...

hello from Rome NY,
I believe I just came across some of these in my mulch bed. I have never seen this kind of fungus before. I'm still not sure if its the right kind because the head is not separtated from the body. the stem is white and the head is red. There are dead ones that look just like your picture.

Gaye from the Hunter said...

Hello to both readers from New York.

Sharon, if the head has no space between it and the stem, then it is likely to be another species. There are similar species with slightly different characteristics, but all function similarly.

Thank you for your comments and reports.

Regards,
Gaye

Anonymous said...

Me and my daughter found some of this in our Saint Paul Minnesota yard in wood chips around our home. The smell is so powerful. I thought had an animal relieving itself around our bushes until we discovered this fungus. It is NASTY. It seems to grow from nothing to 5 inches within days.

Gaye from the Hunter said...

Hello Minnesota,

yes, I agree, they are somewhat offensive. Thank you for your sighting.

Cheers,
Gaye

Terri H. said...

Thanks for posting these photos! These sprang up in my yard in Northern Illinois and I had to scour the internet to find out what they were... had never seen anything like them! First they grew under the hibiscus bush, then they showed up under a tomato plant. Mine don't stink too badly, though.

Gaye from the Hunter said...

Hello Terri H,

I'm glad my fungi observations could help you identify the strange growths popping up in your garden. Thank you for your Northern Illinois sighting.

Cheers,
Gaye

onthefly said...

Found in our garden in Stanthorpe, Queensland!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ogcodes/2170585306/

Anonymous said...

I also have these in my front flower bed. I am in Martinsville, Indiana. About 45 minutes south of Indianapolis. I have also used black bed mulch for my flower bed. They just appeared this year. Late summer early fall. The smell is horrible and unfortunately right outside of my front door? Does anyone know if they are poisonous or harmful to animals? I have two large dogs & also lots of wildlife, especially deer.

Thanx!
Nina

Ann said...

Hi:

I finally found the fungi that are sprouting last year and now this year from my supposedly "gourmet, premium" black mulch which I purchased from a reputable plant nursery. Ugh. I'm in Bucks County, PA near Doylestown and I have never seen this fungi ANYWHERE (aside from websites) in person other than my own plant beds. I will now be trying a different mulch next time. Seems like its just in the "black" color mulch variety, the color I like best on my lawn. Don't think I'll be using this color anymore!!! Truly gross looking fungi, no matter how beneficial it may be as fertilizer, they are being removed as soon as I see them! Yuk!!!

Ann

Tammy said...

North Providence, Rhode Island, USA: A couple weeks ago I spotted a "finger" but it wasn't attached to the ground, and I believed it to be a weird scrap left by an animal. This morning, I find about a dozen fingers in my wood chip mulched garden. Across the yard at the base of a wood chip pile, I spotted a few more fingers. A couple years ago, I had 13 trees cut down and was left with an over abudance of mulch for landscaping. I wanted a colorful garden, but I'm sure slimy mushrooms are NOT what I was going for. It sounds like they're not harmful, and are actually good for the soil...and that there's not an efficient way to permanently remove them anyway. At least mine aren't emitting an odor YET. Very helpful information. Thank you.

Sue Lambton said...

This fungus has been appearing in my front garden for about 3-4 weeks for the past 3 years. About 2 - 8 come up each night. I dig them up every morning as they are toxic and the smell attracts dogs.

Sue Lambton NSW

Sanjay said...

I just saw these in my back yard in Chevy Chase, Maryland (USA). At night we get deer in our backyard, so i thought it must be connected to that. Then i was puzzled as it seemed to travel around (now presuming new ones growing at different locations, while the previous disappear overnight). They just look facinating, with such vivid orange against black mulch.
Sanjay

Anonymous said...

I don't know if its news or not but I've not seen them before in the mulch under trees in Lambton park(NSW2299)after recent heavy rain."companion planting" with aseroe rubra. !!

Janet said...

This site had the best photos! It really helped me identify the horrible smelling fungus that popped up in my pine bark mulch bed overnight. I ignorantly kicked one over to see what it was, thus releasing the lovely aroma. Because of the way the "eggs" looked, I thought they were just a cluster of white mushrooms. Thanks again from Raleigh, NC!

zabet said...

a whole colony, at least 30, sprouted recently amid the fallen petals under jacaranda trees at Emu Plains railway station after a few days of heavy rain. A bit of a shock to see this many at once. They seemed to favour the tree which gave the most shade. My only previous sighting was summer before last in some mulch in a garden, also at Emu Plains

Gaye from the Hunter said...

Hello to readers from Emu Plains and Lambton in NSW, and Stanthorpe in Qld. Thank you all very much for sending in your observations. I also saw some Phallus rubicundus at the Hunter Region Botanic Gardens at Heatherbrae today.

Cheers,
Gaye

Gaye from the Hunter said...

Hello to USA readers in Indiana, Doylestown, Rhode Island, and Maryland,

thank you all very much for sending in your observations in your backyards and local areas - most interesting indeed.

Cheers,
Gaye

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Gaye
Not sure why a sudden burst of interest from the USA, but it worthwhile noting the sudden appearance of these Fungi in eastern Australia, after bucket loads of rain.
Isn't blogging great, when an old post like that suddenly springs back into life.
Denis

Gaye said...

Hello Denis,

Yes, and my Stinkhorn fungi posts are amongst the most often resurrected, and it's understandable - when first-time observers discover the weird and often foul forms visiting their gardens like some out-of-this-world life form.

I didn't get out looking for fungi after the early summer rain in the Hunter Valley, but I imagine this common Stinkhorn would have been about.

Thanks for the sighting records Denis.

Regards,
Gaye

Anonymous said...

Several of these have sprung up on my front lawn this morning in Canberra- like all the other contributors- I trawled the internet and found your blog - many thanks for the information! And yes they do smell and grow very quickly. I'm guessing there'll be more in the morning as the tops were covered with flies! Thanks Gaye.

Anonymous said...

i have this fungus growing in my front and back yard. How do you get rid of it. have never had it in my yard until a new company spread mulch last year???

Lynn said...

Hi Gaye,
I spotted a stack of these ugly fun guys in the park along the Cooks River at Tempe, Sydney last weekend. They were quite prolific in a mulched garden bed in the public park beside the river. We've had a lot of rain and humidity in Sydney of late, might have encourage dthem. Great photos. Lynn

Anonymous said...

We have this in our mulched, flower bed in Dayton OH. Should we just let it go?

Trish said...

Another PA sighting! I thought my son had "planted" some of his Nerf bullets (same color, similar length) in the garden. It took me a few moments to realize that they had slimy heads and were actually growing out of THE BLACK MULCH. But this was mulch that we put down LAST YEAR, and we didn't get any last year (that I noticed). I showed them to my husband, and the next day he saw some at the golf course in their black mulch beds. Honestly I didn't smell the stink, but now that I know they are stinky, I will pay closer attention. I did find myself hoping that the neighbors didn't see them and think they were something I intentionally planted!
Does PA import mulch from Australia??
Trish

Anonymous said...

We have these in our yard in Papillion, Nebraska. Before finding your blog, we didn't know what they were! Our son has been calling them "poo-shrooms." LOL!!!!

amanda a said...

I just noticed these strange looking things in my front garden, which has black mulch. We have had so much rain that when I finally could get outside for some air I notices they were there. I also find them creepy.

Anonymous said...

Great post. We are in Boston and these phallic-looking growths appeared next to our rhododendron in some mulch. My son swore it was an alien invasion.

Anonymous said...

Spotting in Virginia Beach, Va. We have a whole patch of them in our mulch. I haven't smelled anything yet...and I hope it stays that way!

Anonymous said...

We're in Dover DE and have these sprouting up all over our neighborhood. We live in a housing development that provides free lawn care, and mulch, to every house. I thought the random smells in the air were from the sewers, but I think I was wrong. A few others have asked also, is there any way to get rid of them without removing the mulch?

I will be posting info about this for my neighbors, thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hampton, VA. Somehow got lucky, as we have a non-stinky version that popped up in the last few weeks, possibly after Hurricane I, although I'm not completely positive on that timing. My grouping is in the middle of the lawn, nowhere near any mulch. I've seen them in neighbors' yards, also. I've lived here for 20+ years, and have never seen this one.
Thanks for the great info!

Flabmeister said...

G'day Gaye

I have just seen my first in Carwoola (780m AMSL, about 25 km SE of Canberra). I have blogged it at http://franmart.blogspot.com/2011/11/rudely-named-fungus.html

Best regards

Martin

Castaly Lombe said...

Thanks for helping me identify what we called "Botanicus Dog Dickus" a most remarkable, disgusting and stinky fungus. Growing from mulch at our entrance, ACT Scouts Garran, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory. I also thought it was nurf bulletts at first that kids had planted...but not possible, so many! And they smell! The flies love them. Are they carnivourous?

Gaye said...

Hello Castaly,

thank you for the sighting. Summer rain and humidity often set stinkhorn fungi sprouting.

No, they are not carnivorous. The fungus gets its nourishment from the substrate, which in this case would be the mulch and soil beneath. The flies are attracted to the stench and carry off the 'brown stinky goo' that contains spores and therefore spreads the fungus to other locations.

Cheers,
Gaye

Sammy said...

See in Jerrabomberra Valley, ACT in native grassland after the recent heavy rain.

Cool fungus!

Anonymous said...

Jesse

We found these in our back garden in Townsville after a few weeks of rain. Had no idea what they were. We have had the mulch in our back garden for a couple of years now and have never seen them before. They are everywhere!!!

Gaye said...

Thank you for the sighting records in Townsville and ACT.

Cheers,
Gaye

Anonymous said...

I JUST DISCOVERED THESE GROWING IN MY LAWN IN SACRAMENTO, CA. AT FIRST I THOUGHT THEY WERE CHICKEN FEET THAT AN ANIMAL HAD LEFT BUT THEY KEEP COMING UP. ANY SUGGESTIONS ON GETTING RID OF THEM. I HAVE DOGS, ARE THEY POISONOUS?
THANKS
DEBBIE

Tami Pedersen said...

Hi, I have been seeing this fungi in 1 part of my yard now for 3 years. I have never noticed any smell before. I have a new puppy who is constantly eating them quicker then I can pull them up. Do you know if this is toxic for dogs? Tami Northville, MI FYI I use dark brown mulch.
thanks for the help

Anonymous said...

Happy to find your information on this type of fungi. We've seen them in our yard for the past two years and had no idea what they were until now! We live in Southeastern Pennsylvania and I see some of our neigbors in PA and NJ have them too. Thought I was the only one with these strange things in our yard!

Anonymous said...

I found a patch of these in my front yard in Jamesburg NJ, this morning. I was very troubled by them as I had never seen anything them before. I too much like another posted before me thought my kids had "planted" their nerf darts. Taking a closer look at them I assumed they were some type of fungus/mushroom. I was troubled by how something could grow that fast overnight. I'm thankful for your pictures and the ppl responding so that I was able to identify what they were.

Anonymous said...

Ew ick! Before the fungus breaks out from underground, you will see a whitish dome at ground level...it's slimy and nasty! Now I know what this strange (but pretty color of pinkish/coral!) fungus is. We had an extremely hot and dry summer this year. Can't imagine why fungus would flourish this year. I live in northern Indiana.

Ezracom said...

Hi from Kununurra WA!
We just had a huge patch grow overnight out of the mulch and in the spot where the air conditioner condenser drips continually into in the garden.
It started with one stalk overnight and then the second night a large "posy" just appeared the next morning! The flies were all over it and within hours they were a wilted mess... But more appear to be budding in the mulch so we might have a continual bit of colour in our otherwise green garden. Thanks for the blog - was a real help in IDing our new resident!

dan said...

These pop up under the port jackson figs at Mort Bay Park in Balmain (NSW 2041) after rain. First noticed them 2 weeks or so ago. They draw a crowd thats for sure. I thought they might be aliens from out of space. They were there again this morning.

Gaye said...

Hello Dan,

that's funny - yeah, I can imagine them drawing a crowd in a public place, almost looking X-rated :)

Thanks for the thumbs-up on your siting of this fungus.

Cheers,
Gaye