Monday, March 4, 2013

Stinky Mushrooms

This is a Netted Stinkhorn, Dictyophora duplicata. Also known as the Skirted Stinkhorn or Veiled Stinkhorn, this mushroom takes its name from that lacy fringe that hangs down from the cap. In this case the fringe is particularly long.

As you can guess from this blog post's title, this mushroom really smells terrible.  When spotted on the jungle pathway between the managers' room and Banda 7, it was detectable from quite a few meters away. It’s way of propagating is by attracting insects who are drawn to the gooey cap which is covered in a sticky, sweet layer that the insects feed on, within which are the mushroom’s spores. 
Their spores can’t be carried on the wind, as with most mushrooms, so it relies entirely on insects, primarily flies and butterflies to procreate.

Unlike most fungi, which have a root-like network, stinkhorns begin life as an egg. The fruiting body begins at"egg" stage, from which the phallic body emerges over the course of just a few hours. The growth of a stinkhorn from egg to full length is incredibly fast- less than a day. It was spotted at 3pm and there was no evidence the next morning at first light, in our case. For a lifecycle video see this YouTube video: Netted Stinkhorn Mushroom

Some members of this group of mushroom are considered a delicacy; in China it’s considered an aphrodisiac, eaten at "egg" stage or after maturity once the cap has been removed. They are even cultivated and sold in shops, fresh or dry! For us the smell was too off-putting to consider trying to eat it, and don’t worry, that’s not where any of the mushrooms on the menu are sourced!

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