Common Stinkhorn

(Phallus impudicus)

Conservation Status
Common Stinkhorn
Photo by Lucy M
  IUCN Red List

not listed

 
  NatureServe

not listed

 
  Minnesota

not listed

 
           
           
           
           
 
Description
 
 

Common Stinkhorn occurs across the United states but is most common west of the Mississippi River. It is found in the summer and fall in deciduous woods, parks, lawns, and gardens. It grows on the ground, singly or in clusters. It is saprobic, obtaining its nutrients from decaying wood.

The fruiting body at first is whitish to yellowish, egg-shaped, 1½ to 2 tall, and 1¼ to 2 wide. It resembles a puffball at least partially submerged in the ground. It is attached to the ground or other substrate by thread-like, branching, similarly colored strands (mycelium). Inside the “egg” there is a gelatinous layer, an olive-green spore mass (gleba), and all of the fully-formed parts of the mature stinkhorn. When conditions are right the “egg” ruptures and expands rapidly. In one or two days it produces a distinctly phallic structure with a stalk and thimble-like head. The rapid expansion is possible because all of the parts are fully formed and compressed inside the “egg”, and because the individual cells elongate, rather than new cells being produced. As the stinkhorn expands the gelatinous layer mixes with the spore mass producing a shiny, putrid slime that covers the cap. The foul-smelling slime is irresistible to flies, which feed on it, lay their eggs in it, and transfer spores when they fly to other stinkhorns. It is a smelly nuisance to homeowners who find the mushroom under their wood deck.

The stalk is white to yellowish-white, spike-like, hollow, spongy, fragile, 4 to 11¾ tall, and 1½ to 2 in diameter. At the base of the stalk the remnants of the ruptured “egg” (volva) is white.

The cap is thimble-like, ¾ to 1½ in height, and to 1½ in diameter. There is a white, circular opening at the top where it attaches to the stalk. There are sometimes remnants of a membranous veil attached to the bottom of the cap. At first, the cap is covered with a thick, slimy or gluey, shiny, olive-green to olive-brown, spore-bearing mass (gleba). The gleba has a strong, putrid odor, repulsive to humans but irresistible to flies. When it is carried off by flies and/or washed off by rain it reveals a whitish, pitted and ridged (reticulate) surface. There are no gills.

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
     
     
 
Habitat and Hosts
 
 

Deciduous and coniferous woodlands, parks, lawns, gardens

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Season

 
 

Summer and fall

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

4, 24, 26, 29, 30, 77.

 
  10/15/2021      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Widespread. More common in western United States

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Kingdom Fungi (fungi)  
  Subkingdom Dikarya  
  Division Basidiomycota (club fungi)  
  Subdivision Agaricomycotina (jelly fungi, yeasts, and mushrooms)  
  Class Agaricomycetes (mushroom-forming fungi)  
  Subclass Phallomycetidae  
  Order Phallales (stinkhorns and allies)  
  Family Phallaceae (stinkhorns)  
  Genus Phallus  
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Ithyphallus impudicus

Morellus impudicus

Phallus foetidus

Phallus volvatus

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

Common Stinkhorn

Stinkhorn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Gleba

The inner spore-bearing mass of puffballs, earthstars, and stinkhorns.

 

Mycelium

The vegetative part of a fungus; consisting of a mass of branching, thread-like hyphae, through which a fungus absorbs nutrients from its environment; and excluding the fruiting, reproductive structure.

 

Saprobic

Obtaining nutrients from non-living organic matter, such as decaying plant or animal matter.

 

Volva

Also called cup. A cup-like covering at the base of a mushroom stem, sometimes buried. In Amanita, Volvariella, and some other mushrooms, it is the remnants of the universal veil ruptured by the mushroom pushing through. In Phallales it is the remnants of the ruptured peridium.

 
 
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Luciearl

 
 

At first finding this egg like fungus. I truly thought it was an egg. After tearing away a portion of the outer skin, I still thought the gelatinous substance inside seemed like an egg. Then my son showed me it had a stem underneath. Puzzling. Hope we can find out what this interesting fungus might be.

 
    Common Stinkhorn      
           
 

Not sure if these were the same kind or just different stages. Found in same location.

 
    Common Stinkhorn   Common Stinkhorn  
 

Angie

 
 

Found at park in the wood chips.

 
    Common Stinkhorn      
 

Anonymous 2

 
 

Found in yard. Popped up randomly 16hrs after mowing & heavy rain

 
    Common Stinkhorn      
 

Lucy M

 
    Common Stinkhorn   Common Stinkhorn  
           
 
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Other Videos
 
  Phallus impudicus timelapse HD
LS A
 
   
 
About

Published on Dec 2, 2015

El falo hediondo (Phallus impudicus) es un hongo que demuestra que la naturaleza es una gran imitadora del hombre, o quizás al revés. Su olor a cadáver en descomposición se percibe a varios metros de distancia y atrae a las moscas que se posan en su gleba, contribuyendo de esta manera a la dispersión de sus esporas.

Google Translate: The smelly phallus (Phallus impudicus) is a fungus that shows that nature is a great imitator of man, or perhaps the other way around. Its decomposing corpse smell is perceived several meters away and attracts flies that perch on its glebe, contributing in this way to the dispersal of its spores.

   
  Phallus Impudicus
Nature Check
 
   
 
About

Published on Sep 15, 2015

   
  The Common Stinkhorn, Phallus impudicus
Wild Food UK
 
   
 
About

Published on Aug 26, 2014

Tasting the common stinkhorn. Phallus impudicus.

   
  Flies on a Stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus)
Phil Champion
 
   
 
About

Published on Jul 8, 2012

At Edgbaston Pool Nature Reserve, Birmingham. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phallus_impudicus

   
  Common Stinkhorn
Mike's Nature Journal
 
   
 
About

Published on Nov 19, 2017

There are many varieties of Stinkhorns . I believe this is a Common Stinkhorn, The "egg" form is actually edible .

   

 

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Visitor Sightings
 
           
 

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  Luciearl
10/9/2021

Location: Fairview Twp, Cass County

At first finding this egg like fungus. I truly thought it was an egg. After tearing away a portion of the outer skin, I still thought the gelatinous substance inside seemed like an egg. Then my son showed me it had a stem underneath. Puzzling. Hope we can find out what this interesting fungus might be.

Common Stinkhorn  
  Angie
10/4//2019

Location: Stewartville, MN

Found at park in the wood chips.

Common Stinkhorn  
  Anonymous2
9/18//2019

Location: Wadena County

Found in yard. Popped up randomly 16hrs after mowing & heavy rain

Common Stinkhorn  
  Luciearl
8/26/2018

Location: Cass County

Not sure if these were the same kind or just different stages. Found in same location.

Common Stinkhorn  
  Lucy M
8/24/2018

Location: Hennepin County

Common Stinkhorn  
           
 
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