The stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus) is a troublesome mushroom after its obscene shape and disgusting odour. When immature, it is a white egg of gelatinous nature covered by a thin membrane named peridium. Inside, a conic shaped, dark olivaceous coloured gleba develops. The egg breaks after the pressure of a cylindrical, thick, sponge like white stipe that lifts the gleba. The image of the adult mushroom is exactly as described by its scientific name. The mature gleba shines after viscous liquid and smells rotten meat. But tastes are free; the odour and appearance of rot attracts flies that feed on it. The spores of the stinkhorn spread with the flies’ droppings, not blowing in the wind as most of mushrooms. Once eaten, the remaining gleba looks dug out, plenty of holes as a morel.
The stinkhorn grows in rich soils of planifolia forests, meadows and parks; it’s largely distributed though not frequent. It’s found in the green oak woods of Montserrat massif.
The former group Gasteromycetes where closed, globular fungi as the stinkhorn used to be classified has not systematic value anymore.
The Catalan poet Celdoni Fonoll devotes to it the following verses:
Dret fal·lus pudent
que en tot bosc t’embosques,
se’t foten les mosques
ben a cremadent,
perds el gland, i t’osques,
et buides, t’esclosques,
i, fal·lus, bon vent!
Celdoni Fonoll. Fascinants bolets. Barcelona: Mina, 2006.
[photos Lloll Bertran]