Stinkhorn mushroom: Mutinus elegans

There are many types of stinkhorns but one thing they have in common is their alien-like appearance provided by a smelly, slimy layer of spores on the top of the mushroom. They can commonly be found throughout North America in lawns and woodchip beds where this fungus feeds on dead plant debris. The mushrooms emerge during the summer and fall.

Mutinus elegans can first be spotted as an egg-shaped mass on the ground. If one of the eggs is cut open it will reveal a liquid filled mini-mushroom. The egg will sprout the main bright orange stalk which sports a grey, slimy mass of spores on the tip. The scent emitted attacks flies and other insects which carry the spores to other locations.

Here you can see several eggs, which will emerge into mushrooms in the next several days. There are also several withered mushrooms from the previous day.

From egg, to sprout, to mushroom.

Mature fruiting stinkhorn.

Stinkhorn mushrooms are aptly named as they have a strong odor and intense coloration. Check out your lawn and mulch beds this fall to see if you have any to observe up close. This mushroom is not poisonous, and the immature eggs can be eaten-however they are not as delicious as a morel! If the mushrooms disturb you, it is possible to remove them by raking them out of your lawn or mulch.

All photos were taken by Sara Bratsch. For non commercial use only.

Please contact regarding all other uses.

Cite this article:

Sara Bratsch. "Stinkhorn mushroom: Mutinus elegans". 1 October 2014.


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