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Phallus impudicus

Stinkhorn Family [Phallaceae]  

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20th Aug 2009 Photo: © Derek Mayes
Typical appearance of the fungus when emanating a nauseating and putrid smell of rotting flesh.

20th Aug 2009 Photo: © Derek Mayes
The now white cap is dimpled where the spores lie in wait for flies, attracted by the putrescent small. The stem or stipe looks a little like expanded polystyrene foam.

Some similarities to : Dog Stinkhorn

Distinguishing Feature : The phallic nature of Stinkhorns gave rise to the scientific name of the Genus Phallus. This Stinkhorn Phallus Impudicus means 'impudent penis'.

Grows in either deciduous or coniferous forests.

This fungus develops within an all-enveloping egg-like membrane, giving rise fairly quickly to a stipe with cap. At first the cap is olive-green, smells of radish and is covered in a viscous mucous, but later the cap whitens and develops pits containing the spores. The sticky cap now develops a putrescent smell of rotting flesh, possibly caused by the very simple nitrogenous compound putrescine being synthesized within it. This smell attracts flies upon which the sticky spores attach, to be later carried elsewhere by the flies. It is only the cap which smells.


Both cadaverine and putrescine are nitrogenous diamines produced in the organic decay of dead animal flesh produced by the decomposition of certain amino acids including lysine. They are poisonous and smell of putrefaction. These and other putrescent smelling chemicals are thought to be produced by Stinkhorns in their quest for visiting flies. Cadaverine differs from Putrescene only in having an extra CH2 in the chain. Putrescine is found in all plant cells. They are closely related to Spermine and Spermidine.

A foul-smelling sulfur based chemical is also know to be emitted by both decaying flesh and this Stinkhorn: DMTS or DiMethylTriSulfide which is detectable in air at concentrations as low as 1 part in 1012 and attracts Blowflies (Bluebottles).

  Phallus impudicus  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Phallaceae  


Phallus impudicus

Stinkhorn Family [Phallaceae]  

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