Mutinus elegans

10/18/2021

Good evening, friends,

I just wrapped up a moving and powerful weekend helping out at a Friends of Fungi retreat in Phoenicia, NY with John Michelotti of Catskill Fungi. A warm welcome to our new friends. This week’s mushroom is Mutinus elegans, commonly known as the elegant stinkhorn or the devil’s dipstick. This mushroom was found by Paula on our mushroom walk in the ramble on 10/9/2021. I’ve also attached a picture of a different stinkhorn, commonly known as the stinky squid (Pseudocolus fusiformis), that we found this weekend to illustrate the morphological differences in this ghastly group of mushrooms.

Ecology

M. elegans is saprobic (consumes dead wood) and is commonly found in wood chips/cultivated areas, but can also grow in the forest. It is found summer through fall in eastern North America and Europe, but has apparently been found in Japan as well. The mushroom begins development in a membranous sac called a volva that you could mistake for a puffball mushroom or even a chicken egg. The physical structure is quite phallic and appropriately it is in the family Phallaceae.

Fun Facts

M. elegans has a very neat method of spore dispersal. As you can see in the pictures, it looks like there is some dirt at the tip of the mushroom. Believe it or not, the substance that looks like dirt is actually the spore mass of the mushroom, known as the gleba. The mushroom and spore deposit are so pungent in odor that it attracts flies to come and gorge themselves on this foul feast. The flies are then dispersing the spores wherever they fly and land.M. elegans has also shown unique antibacterial (and antifungal) activity against some major human pathogens like e. coli and salmonella. It is also said to help battle ulcers, rheumatism, gout, and epilepsy when carried as a talisman (you aren’t going to make many friends carrying this smelly shroom around in your pocket, however).

Around Town

Sigrid Jakob, the president of the New York Mycological Society, is giving an Introduction to Fungi zoom presentation with the Wild Bird Fund this Wednesday. You can sign up for the presentation here, and you don’t have to be in the NYC area to join:   https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/7816330032909/WN_mEyH7E-3TwWD-yKZPA1P8A

My friend Dan sent me this beautiful, short documentary (seven minutes, very doable folks) from Giuliana Furci and the Fungi Foundation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PI_-eUOgqFI&ab_channel=FFungi

Last, but not certainly not least, I want to give a shoutout to myco-counselor this weekend, Gabriela D’Elia. She took the picture of the stinky squid stinkhorn and has a website: https://www.moon-mushrooms.com/. She’s a stellar human. 

There’s a full moon on Wednesday,
Aubrey

References
1) Kuo, M. (2021, August). Mutinus elegans. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: http://www.mushroomexpert.com/mutinus_elegans.html
2) https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/84271-Mutinus-elegans
3) https://healing-mushrooms.net/mutinus-elegans
4) https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/mutinus-elegans/