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Old 14-12-2012, 08:44 PM   #247
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Exclamation Common Stink Horn

Phallus impudicus, known colloquially as the common stinkhorn, is a widespread fungus recognizable for its foul odour and its phallic shape when mature, the latter feature giving rise to several names in 17th-century England. It is a common mushroom in Europe and western North America, where it occurs in habitats rich in wood debris such as forests and mulched gardens. It appears from summer to late autumn. The fruiting structure is tall and white with a slimy, dark olive coloured conical head...Writing about life in Victorian Cambridge, Gwen Raverat (granddaughter of Charles Darwin) describes the 'sport' of Stinkhorn hunting..
In our native woods there grows a kind of toadstool, called in the vernacular The Stinkhorn, though in Latin it bears a grosser name. The name is justified, for the fungus can be hunted by the scent alone; and this was Aunt Etty's great invention. Armed with a basket and a pointed stick, and wearing special hunting cloak and gloves, she would sniff her way round the wood, pausing here and there, her nostrils twitching, when she caught a whiff of her prey; then at last, with a deadly pounce,she would fall upon her victim, and poke his putrid carcass into her basket. At the end of the day's sport, the catch was brought back and burnt in the deepest secrecy on the drawing-room fire, with the door locked; because of the morals of the maids..The rate of growth of Phallus impudicus has been measured at 10–15 cm (3.9–5.9 in) per hour. The growing fruit body is able to exert up to 1.33 kN/m2 of pressure—a force sufficient to push up through asphalt...

There is also a possible ecological association between the P. impudicus and badger (Meles meles) setts. Fruiting bodies are commonly clustered in a zone 24 to 39 metres (79 to 128 ft) from the entrances of setts; setts also typically harbor a regularly available supply of badger cadavers—the mortality rate of cubs is high and most likely occurs within the setts.. The fruiting of large numbers of stinkhorns attracts a high population of blowflies to the badger setts; the proximity to badger carcasses entices the flies to lay their eggs (Calliphora and Lucilla breed on carrion) and help ensure that they are more quickly eliminated, removing a potential source of disease. The laxative effect of the gleba reduces the distance from the fruiting body to where the spores are deposited, ensuring the continued production of high densities of stinkhorns...

Last edited by lightgiver; 15-12-2012 at 03:06 AM.
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