What You Should Know
Clathrus ruber is a type of fungus that belongs to the stinkhorn family and is the most common type in the Clathrus genus. Its fruit bodies are round or oval and have a latticed structure.
This fungus feeds on decaying woody plant material and is usually found alone or in groups in leaf litter, garden soil, grassy areas, or woodchip garden mulches. Its fruit body starts off as a whitish "egg" attached to the ground by cords called rhizomorphs. Inside the egg is a greenish slime called the gleba, which contains high levels of calcium to protect the fruit body during development.
As the egg ruptures and the fruit body grows, the gleba is carried up through the latticed structure, and the egg membrane remains around the base of the structure.
The fruit body of Clathrus ruber can be pink, orange, or red due to pigments called lycopene and beta-carotene. It smells like rotting meat, which attracts flies to spread its spores.
Clathrus ruber is not officially considered edible because of its bad smell, which makes most people not want to eat it. However, stinkhorns are usually considered safe to eat when they are still in the egg stage, and are even considered a delicacy in some parts of Europe and Asia, where they are pickled and sold as "devil's eggs" in markets.
Other names: Latticed Stinkhorn, Basket Stinkhorn, Red Cage, German (Roter Gitterling), France (Coeur de Sorcière), Netherlands (Traliestinkzwa).
Clathrus ruber Mushroom Identification
Immature Fruiting Body
A whitish to faintly brownish "egg" that is 1.18 to 1.97 inches (3 to 5 cm) across. When sliced, it reveals the orange to orangish-red stinkhorn-to-be encased in a brownish gelatinous substance.
Mature Fruiting Body
This structure is 1.97 to 7.09 inches (5 to 18 cm) high and 1.57 to 3.94 inches (4 to 10 cm) wide. It consists of a mesh of arms that surround semi-regular openings, creating a lattice-like structure. With maturity, the lower meshes sometimes become elongated vertically, almost appearing like supporting columns. The base is attached to white rhizomorphs.
The arms are up to about 0.39 inches (1 cm) thick, hollow, spongy, and soft. The outer surfaces sometimes become flattened with maturity, and they are roughened or bumpy between meshes. They are orangish-red to red, fading to pinkish or pinkish-orange.
The volva is sac-like and encases the base of the fruiting body. It is whitish to pale brownish.
This brown substance is produced on the insides of the arms and is malodorous.
This species is saprobic and grows alone or in groups, often near woody debris, lawns, gardens, cultivated soil, and other places. It is found from spring through fall (or over winter in warm climates) and is common throughout the Mediterranean, from where it has spread into temperate Europe, and in North America in Mexico and California, where it is a "regular" in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. It is also known in Asia.
Clathrus ruber does not have any significant uses for human consumption or medicinal purposes. However, as a naturally occurring species, it plays an important role in the ecosystem as a decomposer, breaking down organic matter in the soil. Additionally, it has an interesting appearance and is sometimes used as a decorative element in gardens or for educational purposes in mycology classes.
Spores 4–6 x 1.5–2 µm; cylindric; smooth; hyaline in KOH. Sphaerocysts of the branch context 6–15 µm across; subglobose to irregular; smooth; thin-walled; hyaline to yellowish in KOH. Volval hyphae 1–7 µm wide; smooth; thin-walled; hyaline in KOH; often septate; with occasional clamp connections; sometimes terminating in swollen, clavate cells up to 10 µm across.
Clathrus ruber Look-Alikes
Appears in Florida and along the Gulf Coast. It can be separated by the corona-like grooves surrounding each hole in the lattice structure.
Has a yellow receptacle with structurally simpler arms, and its gleba is concentrated on specialized "glebifers" located at the lattice intersections. It is known only from Venezuela to southern Brazil.
Has a fruit body with two to five long vertical orange or red spongy columns, joined together at the apex.
Clathrus ruber Time-Lapse Video
Clathrus ruber Removal
To remove Clathrus ruber monitor your yard during cool and damp weather and knock down the stalks as soon as they sprout before their spore masses ripen. If they already smell bad, put them in sealable plastic bags and dispose of them in the trash while wearing gloves to avoid bringing the smell indoors.
After removing the visible stinkhorns, check the soil and remove any white egg structures you find by sealing them in plastic bags for disposal in the trash. Stinkhorns grow as white mycelial mats that break down plant material before they reach the egg and fruiting stages. Consider replacing wood mulch with noninvasive evergreen ground cover to avoid feeding stinkhorn mycelia. Clear your yard of dead branches, stumps, and roots as an additional precaution.
Can Clathrus ruber Harm Your Dog?
There is no evidence that Clathrus ruber is toxic to dogs. However, most dogs do not like the taste of stinkhorn mushrooms and will generally avoid eating them. Nonetheless, it is always a good idea to keep your dogs away from any wild mushrooms to prevent accidental ingestion and potential poisoning.
Clathrus ruber Taxonomy and Etymology
Clathrus ruber, a type of fungus, was first illustrated in 1560 by Conrad Gesner, who mistook it for a marine organism. It was scientifically described in 1729 by Pier Antonio Micheli, who gave it its current name. It is part of the Laternoid series of Clathrus species, which have common features including vertical arms of the fruit body and a spongy structure. C. ruber is closely related to other species such as Aseroe rubra and Clathrus archeri. The genus name Clathrus comes from the Greek for "lattice", and the species name ruber means "red".
Clathrus ruber Synonyms and Varietes
Boletus cancellatus Tournefort (1700), Institutiones rei herbariae, 1, p. 561, tab. 329, fig. B
Clathrus cancellatus Linnaeus (1753), Species plantarum exhibentes plantas rite cognitas ad genera relatas, 2, p. 1179
Clathrus cancellatus Tourn. ex Fr., 1823
Clathrus flavescens Persoon (1801), Synopsis methodica fungorum, p. 242
Clathrus nicaensis Barla (1859), Les champignons de la province de Nice, p. 108, pl. 45, fig. 5-12
Clathrus ruber var. flavescens (Pers.) Quadr. & Lunghini (1990)
Clathrus volvaceus Bulliard (1790), Herbier de la France, 10, tab. 441
Photo 1 - Author: Alan Rockefeller (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)
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