What You Should Know
This inedible 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 head is dark brown initially then fades as spores are shed.
This stinkhorn mushroom is usually first detected by its smell which attracts flies. It lacks a veil or skirt, common in parks and gardens.
It is quite easy to confuse it with Mutinus elegans but Mutinus species bear their slime directly on the upper part of the stalk; they have no differentiated head. The skirt-like, detachable slime-bearing head of this Phallus species differentiates it from species of Mutinus.
Other names: Asjhiri Pihiri (India).
Phallus rubicundus Mushroom Identification
Saprobic; growing alone or gregariously in urban locations, including lawns and cultivated areas, as well as woodchip beds; spring through fall in temperate climates, but potentially year-round in tropical and subtropical areas; originally described from South Carolina; distributed in North America from the southeastern states to Texas and Oklahoma (where it is very common), and in Colorado; also recorded from Africa and Asia.
Immature Fruiting Body
Like a whitish "egg"; when sliced revealing the stinkhorn-to-be encased in a gelatinous substance.
Mature Fruiting Body
Cylindric, with a differentiated head structure that is separate from the stem but may collapse against the stem surface with age.
2–3.5 cm high; attached to the top of the stem; conic or nearly so; often becoming perforated at the apex; smooth or finely wrinkled; red to pink, with a whitish lower margin; initially covered by dark brown to nearly black spore slime; sometimes with a few patches of the universal veil.
8–13 cm high; 1.5–2 cm thick; cylindric or somewhat swollen in the middle or below; dry; pinkish-red to pink when fresh, fading to pale orange; pocketed; hollow; base enclosed in a white, brown-stained volva 1–2 cm high; attached to white rhizomorphs.
Spores 4–5 x 2–2.5 µm; ellipsoid; smooth; hyaline in KOH. Sphaerocysts of the pseudostipe 18–67 µm; irregularly subglobose; smooth; walls 0.5–1 µm thick; hyaline in KOH. Hyphae of the volva 2–5 µm wide; smooth; hyaline in KOH; occasionally clamped at septa.
Phallus rubicundus Uses
In the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, where it is known locally Asjhiri Pihiri, it is used by two primitive forest tribes, the Bharia and the Baiga, as a treatment against typhoid, and also by the Baiga to treat labor pain. The fungus is prepared by grinding and mixing with sugar-cake, and one teaspoon is administered three times daily.
One study noted that mosquitoes, attracted to the smell of the gleba, perish after consuming it, and so the fungus may be suitable for further investigating as a biocontrol agent.
Phallus rubicundus Taxonomy and Etymology
This stinkhorn species was originally described from South Carolina, USA, by French naturalist Louis Augustin Guillaume Bosc (1759 - 1828), who gave it the scientific name Satyrus rubicundus. That basionynm was subsequently sanctioned by Swedish mycologist Elias Magnus Fries who, in his Systema Mycologicum of 1823, renamed it Phallus rubicundulus.
Synonyms of Phallus rubicundulus include Phallus iosmus Berk., HymenoPhallus hadriani (Vent.) Nees, and Phallus imperialis Schulzer.
The genus name Phallus was chosen by Carl Linnaeus, and it is a reference to the phallic appearance of many of the fruitbodies within this fungal group.
The specific epithet rubicundus comes from Latin and means red or ruddy.
Photo 1 - Author: John S. Harper (jsharper) (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)
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