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Picture of the Week
for 22 May 2000


Peggy Sellers, Purdue University

A stinkhorn grows within an enclosed structure or membrane that looks similar to an egg. When the developing fungus expands, the "egg" breaks open, revealing the young mushroom-like fungus, which at that time is often odorless.

As soon as five hours after full expansion, the spore bearing surface begins to break down, and the spores become immersed in a dark-colored gel-like, foul smelling mass. Hence the name, stinkhorn! This spore mass is attractive to flies who then visit the fungus and pick up spores as they walk over the surface of it. The spores are carried with the flies to new areas.

Stinkhorns are quite common and no cause for concern; they live on dead organic matter (such as corn residue or mulch). There is no information concerning whether or not these mushroom are actually poisonous, but eating them is NOT RECOMMENDED.

You might want to check out another webpage devoted to the stinkhorns: http://www.hup.harvard.edu/Featured/mushroom_stinkhorn.html

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Last updated: 11 December 2002/jrm