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Stinkhorn

Edible Edible
Autumn Autumn
Summer Summer

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.

Cap

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.

Stem

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.

Flesh

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

Habitat

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.

Frequency

Common.

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.

COMMENTS

19 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.

  9. debi foss says:

    I have them in my yard, but they smell earthy not bad. came on mulch CT

  10. Judy Adams Barnes says:

    This morning me and my momma found some stinkhorn mushroom’s. We had no clue what they were but she found them on Google. (Gotta love goggle). The ones we found look like a orange 🥕carrot with brownish black on the head. So not pretty but interesting. So far there is no smell, wish I could send picture…..They are actually scarry looking. Well Halloween is around the corner Freddy Gruger has nothing on these. Will post pictures if I can. Enjoyed reading all the replies, it’s nice to know we’re not alone. Blessings to all, and to God in whom we trust. May peace ✌️ reign upon all the land and in our lives.

  11. Scott A Davis says:

    We have one growing in our flower bed in Southern Indiana, had never seen one before. Oct. 26th

  12. Andrew Vevers says:

    When I was a student I found the “egg” stage, dug it up and took it back to my room in a plant pot so I could watch it mature. It was fascinating watching it expand after a couple of days to the phallic form in around an hour. It also quickly lived up to its stinkhorn name. Rotting flesh is a good description, though there’s an unmistakeable acrid odour which I can always now recognise.

  13. Michael says:

    Found lots of these today in a spruce forest .a great find in mid November

  14. Holly A says:

    Found one yesterday in North warwickshire in a very small woodlands, one very prominant and about 7 inches coming out of the ground. a few other broken down stink horns in the area that look like polystyrene. Very large volva coming out of the ground, with the cap being about 2-3 inches tall, and the whole cap brown and tar like!
    Very very stinky! didnt catch the smell until i was up close but then could smell it up to a meter away, Smelt like very fresh dog poo! I have some good photos of the shroom so please do let me know if anyone would like to see it. 🙂

  15. Linda Chaffer says:

    We have recently moved to a house with quite a wild garden in Crieff and I found three eggs by the roots of an ash tree last week. I had no idea what they were but phallus impudicus does grow round here and I saw them on a woodland edge not far from the house last year so I was very pleased to be able to identify them.

  16. Clive Elliott says:

    Our garden backs onto a woodland area associated with a local nursing home. Over a period of several years (about June time) we could smell this strong odour at the end of our garden. We assumed that the smell came from dying/decaying rats or similar, that had been killed by poison put down by staff at the nursing home because of infestation near their kitchens. Today, 6th July, we discovered what we now know to be a stinkhorn mushroom, covered in flies, growing in our runner bean patch, at the top end of our garden! The smell is exactly the same as we had experienced before.

  17. Luke83 says:

    These are generally super tasty but only when picked within specific few hours right after they ‘come out of egg’ and before stage when they attract flies.

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