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This mushroom first asppears as an egg partly submerged in the surrounding substrate with a jelly like feel. the mushroom then (slowly) bursts out and forms the very phallic looking fungi. The cap is covered in a sticky substance, called a gleba containing the spores which flys seem very attracted to, they devour this and get covered in spores which then get a free ride to a new place to grow.
You can often smell a stinkhorn before you see it.

Mushroom Type
Common Names Stinkhorn
Scientific Name Phallus impudicus
Season Start Jun
Season End Nov
Average Mushroom height (CM) 25
Average Cap width (CM) 5
Please note that each and every mushroom you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.


At first appearing smooth and olive grey brown to black but this is what’s called the gleba which contains the spores and as soon as flies find this mushroom they devour and get covered in it leaving a white honeycomb like cap. In the adjacent image the gleba has been half devoured.


Hollow, white and like spongey honeycomb or polystyrene.

Bulbous Base

Has a very bulbous almost volva like base that when in the egg stage contains a small Stinkhorn fruitbody surrounded by a slimy jelly.


Soft and rubbery in the cap, like polystyrene in the stem and jelly like in the ‘egg’.


Any where with rotting wood present.

Possible Confusion

Can look a bit like a Black Morel or False Morel but the overwhelming stench of the Stinkhorn should save confusion.
Can also look like a Puffball, Earthball,pictured, or Amanita egg when in the egg stage but Puffballs are soft, spongey and pure white inside, Earthballs are tough and usually purple or black inside, Amanitas at the egg stage will have a small fruiting body inside but it is not surrounded by slime and again the smell should help you avoid any confusion.

Spore Print

Pale yellow. Oblong. As the spores are mixed in the olive grey gleba it is not possible to do a spore print with this mushroom.

Taste / Smell

At the egg stage, this mushroom is reported as edible, the tough cuticle in the egg does taste a bit like radish but we don’t eat this mushroom as the smell is putrid and most unappetizing.



Other Facts

This mushroom has been reported to have aphrodisiac qualities but this purely down to it’s phallic look rather than anything scientific.
Victorians were disgusted by the sight of this mushroom and used to go out in the morning with a club and flatten them to save young women’s embarrassment.


10 comments for Stinkhorn

  1. Colm Breathnach says:

    Saw around three or four stink-horns in a rhododendron maze at Castle Semple Country Park, Renfrewshire, Scotland. Definitely stink-horns but no smell!

  2. Bob Bones says:

    Ditto at Sandringham in Norfolk today. They looked great but no strong smell… Covid? 🙂

  3. Vivien Cunningham says:

    Some of these have popped up in my garden I Reading, Berkshire this week, not the most attractive but at least there’s no smell

  4. Barbara Mackenzie says:

    Just tracked down the source of an appalling smell in the garden 1 stink horn living up to its name.Have never seen( or smelt! ) one before.Dunbar countryside,East Lothian

  5. Ian says:

    Find one at the base of a rotting ash stump today in Henfield West Sussex. Mostly devoured but still attracting a lot of flies

  6. Emma says:

    Can anyone describe what the smell is like please? I think we have some in our garden but wanted to be sure before we investigate!

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      It is a very unpleasant smell, a bit like sewage or rotting flesh but not quite the same.

    2. Sheriennnai L Cruse says:

      Have some growing in my mulch the smell is sickning almost makes you want to puke. Strong like sewage

  7. Paul says:

    Wondered what the awful smell was, then spotted one of these by the gate. Limousin, France.

  8. Jess Hart says:

    Sniffed a couple out in the woods today near Stocks Reservoir and found one Stinkhorn Egg.
    The egg has no smell even when cut open.
    Sliced up and dry fried it certainly has a mild unique flavour all of its own and a crunchy radish like centre.
    I have a photo of the egg stage if you would like it for this site.

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