Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Stinkin' Stinkhorns

There are many benefits to living on a lot with many shade trees.  Privacy, cooler temperatures, and beauty are a few.  However, there are a few disadvantages as well.  Too many falling leaves in autumn, limited flower/vegetable planting options, and mushrooms.  Not the cute little mushrooms gnomes live in.  Penis mushrooms!  Even a summer with drought conditions didn't prevent those little buggers from showing up.  This year the phallic looking monstrosities showed up in the backyard, the sunnier side of the yard.  And they showed up in abundance.  For the first time I decided to Google 'penis mushroom' and discovered that they are really called Stinkhorn mushrooms.  That's a fitting name because they STINK.  I learned that they crop up in wooded or mulched areas where the mulch is decomposing.  They aren't harmful and there isn't much you can do to prevent or get rid of them. 

The first stage of it's life cycle is an 'egg' stage; they emerge from the mulch like some sort of space oddity.  After a day or two the egg sprouts an 'eye' and grows into it's phallic form.  The tip of the 'shroom becomes dark colored and produces a sweet slime that insects are attracted to.  This is how the spores are dispersed.  After a day or two the mushroom turns into a gelatinous mess and rots.  At some point in this cycle you will notice the stench.  In previous years we had just a few; nothing to notice much of a smell.  This year, there were enough that I could smell them about ten feet from the garden.  It was bad enough that I had to take matters into my own hands and pull them out before even more started decomposing.  It was a nasty task, let me tell you!  I have made a mental note not to dump out the bird bath in the same place every day; especially in an area that is quite shaded.

So, that's your lesson on fungi.  They aren't always such fun guys. Bwahahaha!

The eggs


Mushroom emerging

Decaying mushroom with mulch stuck on it's sticky parts

The bucket o' 'shrooms I gathered

See the 'eyeball' on that egg?  Caught that one before it became trouble!

What a stinkin' mess!


  1. Pete wants to know if they are eatable? With scrambled eggs maybe? He's not interested :)