Phallus rubicundus


Kingdom: Fungi
Division: Basidiomycota
Class: Agaricomycetes
Order: Phallales
Family: Phallaceae
Genus: Phallus
Species: P. rubicundus


Phallus species are fungi commonly known as stinkhorn. They were first mentioned by a Dutch botanist Hadrianus Junius (1511–1575), in 1564. He wrote a short book describing them, and emphasized he was not convinced that the mushroom was a fungi species. Phallus rubicundus is a species found in Africa, Asia, South America, and North America, and it is very commonly found in gardens, lawns, and yards, in areas where rotten wood and mulch are present. It was first described in 1811, by French botanist Louis Augustin Guillaume Bosc, who formally described it under the name Stayrus rubicundus. In 1823, it was transferred to the genus Phallus, and given the binomial name Phallus rubicundus, by Elias Fries. It received this name because of its phallic appearance when mature, and its red color. Another characteristic of this fungus is its foul odor, which attracts insects and makes them the most important way of spores dispersal. They can be smelled from long distances, even when they are only emerging.

Stinkhorns emerge from a 25mm in diameter underground egg. Initially it stands erct, but it rapidily shrivels and sags. The stem is orange-pinkish and its cap is spherical to egg-shaped, its fruit body is about 20cm tall, up to 1.5 cm thick, and it is covered with a smelly olive brown fleshy spore bearing inner mass.

They can be easily confused with Mutinus elegans, but they have a distinctly separated cap that distinguishes them from Mutinus spp.


Young Phallus rubicans found in the gardens of MSU.

Young Phallus rubicundus found in the gardens of MSU.

Mature Phallus rubicundus outside of PSM building, at MSU


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