Colus pusillus: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Colus pusillus Mushroom
Colus pusillus is a species of fungus in the family Phallaceae. The fruiting bodies consist of vivid red, wrinkled arms that branch and connect to form a cage-like structure reminiscent of that of the related species Clathrus ruber. This fungus is saprobic and makes frequent appearances on the garden mulch as a result.
Like all stinkhorns, the fruit body of C. pusillus begins as an egg-like structure. The eggs of C. pusillus are typically off-white, with a red/purple tinge and a faint latticed pattern on the surface. They are anchored to the substrate by one or more root-like rhizomorphs: thickened mycelial strands. The membrane of the "egg" soon ruptures, releasing the rapidly expanding mature receptacle, which can reach a height of around 15 cm.
The interior of the cage is covered by an unevenly distributed glebal slime, which contains fungal spores. This slime is olive-green and has a foul smell, which attracts insects that distribute the fungus' spores to a suitable location.
Other names: Craypot Stinkhorn, Basket Stinkhorn.
Colus pusillus Identification
Saprobic; growing alone or gregariously; in woods or cultivated areas; year-round in tropical and subtropical areas; possibly limited to Australia.
Initially, a whitish "egg" up to 2 cm across, attached to white cords; rupturing, with the stinkhorn emerging as a cage-like structure, 5-8 cm high, of about 10 corrugated, scarlet arms that are roughly triangular in cross-section and that fuse into a stem-like and slightly paler base composed of vertical columns; the inner surfaces of the cage covered with foul-smelling, olive-brown slime; the egg tissue creating a whitish volva.
White to pinkish, central and short to about 15 mm in length.
Usually described as fetid, like rotting meat.
Grows on the ground in mulch and litter, it can be solitary or in clusters after rain.
Spores 4.5-6 x 1.5-2 µ; cylindrical; smooth.
Colus pusillus Look-Alikes
Colus hirudinosus (syn. Clathrus hirudinosus)
Has an elongated fruitbody otherwise quite similar to that of Colus pusillus; it is found mainly in southern Europe, northern Africa, and parts of Asia.
Occurs in Europe (including Britain) is of similar form but it has a less open cage structure formed without wrinkled surfaces.
Colus pusillus Taxonomy & Etymology
In 1845 by English mycologist Miles Joseph Berkeley, who established it basionym as Clathrus pusillus, the currently-accepted scientific name is Colus pusillus, after a 1940 publication in the Palestine Journal of Botany and Horticultural Science by the Polish-born Jewish biologist Professor Israel Reichert (1891 - 1975).
Synonyms of Colus pusillus include Clathrus pusillus Berk., Clathrella pusilla ( Berk.) E. Fisch., Colus muelleri E. Fisch., and Clathrus higginsii F.M. Bailey.
The generic name Colus is Latin and means distaff - a fusiform tool used in spinning and the form of this fungus fruitbody when it is young.
The specific epithet pusillus means small or insignificant.
Colus pusillus profile
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