Mutinus caninus: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Mutinus caninus Mushroom
Mutinus caninus is a small thin, phallus-shaped woodland fungus, with a dark tip. It is often found growing in small groups on wood debris, or in leaf litter, during summer and autumn in Europe, Asia, and eastern North America. It is not generally considered edible, although there are reports of the immature 'eggs' being consumed.
The fruiting body begins as an "egg" stage (shown to the right), from which the phallic-looking fruiting body emerges over just a few hours. As it becomes erect the black slimy mass of spores on the cap begins to mature- and begins to smell like rotting meat.
Other names: Dog Stinkhorn.
Mutinus caninus Identification
Saprobic; growing alone or gregariously in gardens, flowerbeds, meadows, lawns, wood chips, cultivated areas, and so on--also in hardwood forests; summer and fall; common east of the Rocky Mountains, rare to occasional in western North America.
Immature Fruiting Body
Usually at least partially submerged in the ground; appearing like a whitish to pinkish or purplish "egg" up to 4 cm high; when sliced revealing the stinkhorn-to-be encased in a gelatinous substance.
Mature Fruiting Body
Spike-like, 4-17 cm high by .5-1.5 cm wide; more or less equal, with a slightly swollen apex.
Mutinus caninus Taxonomy & Etymology
In 1778 British botanist William Hudson (1730 - 1793) described this species scientifically and gave it the name Phallus caninus. It was the great Swedish mycologist Elias Magnus Fries who, in splitting the genus Phallus in 1849, transferred the Dog Stinkhorn to the new genus Mutinus, thus establishing the currently accepted name of this species as Mutinus caninus.
Synonyms of Mutinus caninus include Phallus caninus Huds., Phallus inodorus Sowerby, Ithyphallus inodorus Gray, and Cynophallus caninus (Huds.) Berk.
The genus name Mutinus comes from Latin and means a penis, while - just as it sounds - the specific epithet caninus is a canine allusion, making the binomial name a reference to dogs' phallic bits! (the term Dog in botanical common English such as Dog Violet means 'common'; however, it can hardly be argued that this is the case with Mutinus caninus, which according to official records in Britain and Ireland is much less common than its larger relative of similar shape the Stinkhorn Phallus impudicus.)
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