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ALIEN MUSHROOM

Posted 3/21/2017

This ‘alien’ mushroom is like something from a horror movie …and it’s in Britain 

 

Take a long look at this horrifying mushroom.

This is a clathrus archeri fungus, known as the ‘octopus stinkhorn’, ‘phalloid fungus’ and ‘devil’s fingers’, and it has just been spotted growing in the New Forest.

What you can see in the above picture is the egg sac stage, with the long foul-smelling red fingers of the fungus ready to ooze out from within.

Most fungi sprout from the earth, but the octopus stinkhorn emerges from an egg, usually around decaying wood chips, old stumps or in leaf litter.

Often these slimy, moist, gelatinous eggs are found in clusters. These eggs are around 4-6cm high and 2-4cm wide



The mushrooms are native to New Zealand and Australia and made their way over to Europe in 1914, believed to have been introduced first to France through military supplies during the start of the First World War.

It was found in Penzance in Cornwall shortly after that, and then in parts of Sussex. Since then it has been found in Bedfordshire, Hampshire, Kent, Suffolk, Surrey and the Channel Islands.

As the mushroom matures, four tentacle-like fingers burst out of the sac, growing to around 5-10cm in length

 

 

The four arms are covered in an olive-brown foul-smelling goo, called ‘gleba’, which attracts flies. The fungus isn’t actually carnivorous though, instead it covers the flies in the spore-bearing gleba and turns them into ‘agents of dispersal’.

The fingers of the stinkhorn start off joined at the tip, but eventually break free, spread out and droop



Despite looking toxic, stinkhorn mushrooms are apparently edible in the egg stage – with some countries even considering the mucilaginous fungus a delicacy.
However, nobody really knows much about eating the clathrus archeri species, and given the related C. ruber is suspected to cause eczema, convulsions and cancer, we wouldn’t recommend giving it a cheeky nibble.
Here’s a gif of the phalloid fungus, slowly hatching



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