Between bites of a breakfast of Marasmius oreades and scrambled
egg (with a tablespoon or two of half-and-half), words on the screen tell
me a column is taking shape.
Subject matter? What else? The explosion of fall fungi brought on by
rain and cooler air temps. Cold weekend rains of central and southern Indiana
have, indeed, triggered a massive emergence of fall fungi. There was no
better evidence than my weekly Sunday-morning march out to the street to
pick up the latest edition of the newspaper for which I toiled for many
My journey was halted in its tracks numerous times as I counted several
unidentified species of fungi, including one member of the suspected Aminita
angel) family while squinting to pick up a double volleyball-size puffball
that screamed for attention at the far edge of my front-yard jungle. But
the interloper that stole my attention was a brace of Marasimus,
the fairy ring mushroom, that had bought into a grassy piece of the lawn.
Later, between showers, I would photograph the players in this multi-star
production of MN (as in Mother Nature).
Frankly, I wasn’t real surprised at this turn of events.
Vermonters Karl and Lisa, (I consider myself the mushroom godfather
of Lisa) last week had e-mailed me concerning a deluge of shaggymanes,
boletes, and other edibles in their northeastern neck of the woods. Obviously,
time was nigh in the Midwest. And so it came.
To add credence to that notion, from Logansport, Lynn Anderson e-mailed
a report of a mushroom that looked very much like a gray morel. Being a
seasoned “moreller,” Lynn wondered if that could be.
Lynn wrote: “I have seen a mushroom that
I have never seen before. It looks a lot like a gray morel (sponge) mushroom.
It has a stronger odor. The inside of the stem is kind of pithy but hollow.
Also, it is secreting moisture on the outside of the sponge (cap). Blowflies
(bluish-green flies) are landing on them like they were dog droppings.
“If you have any idea what they are called, and if they are poisonous,
please let me know.”
Lynn concluded that the mushrooms were in a lawn at Logansport.
My answer: “Hello, Lynn . . . your mystery
mushroom, without the proverbial “Shadow of a Doubt” is stinkhorn (Phallus
impudicus) . . .the similarity of the cap to the morel (it is more
lace-like) and the slime (which attracts flies) are good indicators
of its species, but an even better identifier is the 'sucker-like'
mouth (opening) at the apex of the cap . . this is a late-summer arrival,
undoubtedly spawned by the rains we have been having . . .
if you look closely at the base of the stem (or perhaps just under
the surface of the earth near the stem) you may find eggs . . . they
are attached to the mushroom by what appears to be a fine 'umbilical' cord
. . . the mushroom is edible. . .but I have never tried it because
of the slime and offensive odor.
“Thanks for your interest, Lynn . . . I haven’t seen a stinkhorn for
a few years, but have photographed them on numerous occasions.”
on thumbnail image for enlarged view.
had not shown up in central Indiana on Monday, but could be here any time.
puffball is edible, but I do not consider it choice . . . some puffballs
grow to very large proportions.