Remnants of the stipe and lacy veil of a Phallus stinkhorn mushroom, probably P. impudicus
Stinkhorns are not at all hilarious looking mushrooms from the fungus family, Phallaceae. They are found all over the world, though more so in tropical environments. They start out as what are called “eggs” under the ground. As they grow, these eggs rise to the surface and develop into their fruiting body form within just a few hours. This fruiting body is the mushroom that is visible to us on the surface and is used for reproduction. There are many different species of stinkhorns and they come in a multitude of differing shapes, colors, and sizes.
These are also called Bamboo Mushrooms (Phallus indusiatus). Primarily used in stir-frys and also soups, first dehydrated then rehydrated in a soup or sauce, I'm now tempted to go and retrieve them so I can make a dish for World Cuisine Wednesday!
Previously only collected in the wild, where it is not abundant, this edible fungus was difficult to procure in China and so was only reserved for special occasions. During the Qing Dynasty, this fungus, cháng qún zhú sun, was one of the eight featured ingredients of the "Bird's Nest Eight Immortals Soup" served at a banquet to celebrate the birthday of the Empress Dowager Cixi.
Alas, I was too slow and should have picked them when I found them- I was beaten to the harvest by agoutis! however I'm hoping that enough spores were released at that location for more to form over the next few weeks.
— at Sittee River Wildlife Reserve.
It's not quite clear what the function of this membrane is. With ferns, indusia are formed over the sporangia as a sort of umbrella for protection, but in this fungus species the indusium is below the gleba (spore-bearing tip) so it is perhaps more of a structure enabling non-flying insects better access to the spores and hence dispersal.
*indusium (pl. indusia) is Latin for 'skirt' or 'woman's undergarment'
For more on the stinkhorn mushroom click here.
Photograph by Rick Majors
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