Buy Stinkhorn Mushroom Overview
Stinkhorn mushrooms can grow up to 25cm tall and resemble a phallus when they fully emerge from the egg-like structure containing the immature fruiting body. Once the fruiting body emerges, the young cap oozes a spore-bearing sticky gel called gleba which attracts the flies and other insects it relies on to distribute its spores. It smells like rotting flesh.
Cap: when the ‘egg,’ around 4–8cm in diameter, is ready to fruit, it elongates until it ruptures, the stipe quickly emerging bearing the conical-shaped cap on top. The cap is coated in a dark, olive-green slime and crowned by a small white ring. Underneath the slime (or gleba) coating, the cap has a raised off-white to grey-white honeycomb appearance and is around 2.5–5cm across.
Gills/spores: the spores are yellow and held in the slimy gleba which coats the fungus cap. Flies distribute the gleba attracted to it.
Stipe (stem): a thick white polystyrene-like stem of 2–4cm diameter emerges from the ‘egg’ when the egg erupts.
Not to be confused with two other stinkhorns – the dune stinkhorn (Phallus Hadrian) and the dog stinkhorn (Mutinus caninus). The former tends to be found in dunes; its volva is violet-colored, whereas the latter’s cap is orange beneath the gleba.
Stinkhorn Mushroom Physiology
The physiology of the mushrooms is where things get interesting. And when we say interesting, we mean gut-wrenchingly gross. The fruiting body of Phallus impudicus (the part of the fungus that’s ejected from out of the ground) is produced from a squishy, bizarre egg, which looks from a cross-sectional view like a slimy piece of sushi.
There are several potential benefits associated with their properties:
- Ecological role: Stinkhorn plays an important role in the ecosystem as decomposers, breaking down dead organic matter and recycling nutrients back into the soil.
- Medicinal properties: Traditional medicine to treat various ailments, including respiratory infections, digestive issues, and skin conditions. They contain compounds such as lectins and polysaccharides that may have therapeutic effects.
- Food sources: While not commonly consumed in Western cultures, are considered a delicacy in some parts of the world, such as China and Japan. They can be prepared in various ways, including stir-fried or boiled.
- Insect attractant: The pungent odor attracts flies and other insects, which helps to spread the mushroom’s spores and promote its growth.