Phallus ravenelii: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Phallus ravenelii Mushroom
Phallus ravenelii is a fungus found in eastern North America. Its mushrooms commonly grow in large clusters and are noted for their foul odor and phallic shape when mature. It is saprobic, and as such it is encountered in a wide variety of habitats rich in wood debris, from forests to mulched gardens or sawdust piles in urban areas. It appears from August to October.
Fruit body at first a white to pinkish-lilac egg-like stage, resembling a puffball. The "egg" is attached to the substrate by white to pinkish mycelial strands (rhizomorphs). The outer wall (peridium) of the egg splits and a hollow, spongy, whitish stalk expands bearing a head covered with a slimy, olive-green fetid spore mass. Under the slimy spore mass, the head is smooth or granular to somewhat wrinkled but is not deeply pitted and ridged.
Other names: Ravenel's Stinkhorn.
Phallus ravenelii Identification
Saprobic; growing alone or gregariously in gardens, flowerbeds, meadows, lawns, woodchips, sawdust piles, cultivated areas, and so on-also in woods; summer and fall (also overwinter along the Gulf Coast); widely distributed east of the Rocky Mountains.
Immature Fruiting Body
Like a whitish to pinkish "egg"; when sliced revealing the stinkhorn-to-be encased in a gelatinous substance.
Mature Fruiting Body
Spike-like, to 20 cm; with a 3 to 4.5 cm cap which is smooth (or slightly roughened, but not pitted and ridged) and covered with olive-brown to dark brown slime; developing a small hole with a white rim at the tip of the cap; with a whitish to the yellowish or pinkish hollow stem, 1.5-3 cm thick; usually with a white or pink volva clinging to the stem and around the base; the base attached to whitish rhizomorphs.
Phallus ravenelii Taxonomy
The species was first described officially in the scientific literature by English mycologist Miles Berkeley in an 1873 publication. Berkeley obtained the specimens from Moses Ashley Curtis, which had in turn been sent to him by Ravenel from collections he made at the Santee River in South Carolina in 1846.
Although the specimen had been sent with Ravenel's extensive collection notes, Berkeley's description was brief, and he neglected to mention the veil. American Curtis Gates Lloyd later disparaged the quality of Berkeley's description, and noted "he was so busy that he could not take the time to consider the details, and his "description" tells nothing of the leading characters of the species." Charles Horton Peck, upon encountering the fungus in North America, could not identify it using Berkeley's description, and instead had to contact Ravenel to obtain his original collection notes before he could confirm its identity. Peck later wrote a full description of the species.
In 1898, Edward Angus Burt placed the taxon in the genus Dictyophora, based on the presence of the veil. Otto Kuntze transferred the taxon to the genus Aedycia (now equivalent with Mutinus), resulting in the synonym Aedycia ravenelii. The mushroom is commonly known as the eastern stinkhorn or Ravenel's stinkhorn.
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