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Phallus impudicus

Phallus impudicus
Photo Information
Copyright: Jose Conceicao (jconceicao) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 369 W: 18 N: 842] (3174)
Genre: Fungi
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2009-12-13
Categories: Fungi
Camera: Canon 400 D, 18-55 Canon EFS, Hama UV 58 mm
Exposure: f/11, 1/4 seconds
Details: Tripod: Yes
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2009-12-13 8:56
Viewed: 4462
Points: 26
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Phallus impudicus

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Phallus impudicus, commonly known as the common stinkhorn, is a widespread fungus recognizable for its foul odor and its phallic shape when mature, the latter feature giving rise to several amusing[citation needed] 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 colored conical head. Known as the gleba, this material contains the spores, and is transported by insects which are attracted by the odor – described as resembling carrion. Despite its foul smell, it is not poisonous and the young mushroom is consumed in parts of France and Germany.


Botanist John Gerard called it the "pricke mushroom" or "fungus virilis penis effigie" in his General Historie of Plants of 1597, and John Parkinson referred to it as "Hollanders workingtoole" or "phallus hollandicus" in his Theatrum botanicum of 1640. Linnaeus was responsible for the fairly obvious genus name. Its specific epithet, impudicus, is derived from the Latin for "shameless" or "immodest".


Sometimes called the witch's egg, the immature stinkhorn is whitish or pinkish, egg-shaped, and typically 4 to 6 centimetres (1.6 to 2.4 in) by 3 to 5 centimetres (1.2 to 2.0 in). On the outside is a thick whitish volva, also known as the peridium, covering the olive-colored gelatinous gleba. It is the latter that contains the spores and later stinks and attracts the flies; within this layer is a green layer which will become the 'head' of the expanded fruit body; and inside this is a white structure called the receptaculum (the stalk when expanded), that is hard, but has an airy structure like a sponge. The eggs become fully grown stinkhorns very rapidly, over a day or two. The mature stinkhorn is 10 to 25 centimetres (3.9 to 9.8 in) tall and 4 to 5 centimetres (1.6 to 2.0 in) in diameter, topped with a conical cap 2 to 4 centimetres (0.8 to 1.6 in) high that is covered with a greenish-brown slime termed the gleba. In older fungi the slime is eventually removed, exposing a bare yellowish pitted and ridged (reticulate) surface. This has a passing resemblance to the common morel (Morchella esculenta), with which it is sometimes mistaken. Phallus impudicus is able to exert enough pressure to grow through asphalt and have been calculated to produce a force of up to 1.33 kN/m2 (enough for one mushroom to support 133 kg).


The spores have an elliptical to oblong shape, with dimensions of 3–5 to 1.5–2.5 µm.

Spore dispersal

The dispersal of spores is different from most "typical" mushrooms that spread their spores through the air. Stinkhorns instead produce a sticky spore mass on their tip which has a sharp, sickly-sweet odor of carrion to attract flies and other insects. Odorous chemicals in the gleba include methyl mercaptane, hydrogen sulfide, linalool, trans-ocimene, and phenylacetaldehyde. The mature fruiting bodies can be smelled from a considerable distance in the woods, and at close quarters most people find the cloying stink extremely repulsive. The flies land in the gleba and in doing so collect the spore mass on their legs and carry it to other locations. An Austrian study demonstrated that blow-flies (species Calliphora erythrocephala, Lucilia caesar, Lucilia ampullacea and Dryomyza analis) also feed on the slime, and soon after leaving the fruit body, they deposit liquid feces that contain a dense suspension of spores. The study also showed that beetles (Oecoptoma thoracica and Meligethes viridescena) are attracted to the fungus, but seem to have less of a role in spore dispersal as they tend to feed on the hyphal tissue of the fruiting body.
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 130 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.

Distribution and habitat

The common stinkhorn can be found throughout much of Europe and North America, and it has also been collected in China, Costa Rica, Iceland, India, Tanzania, and southeast Australia. In North America, it is most common west of the Mississippi River; Ravenel's stinkhorn (Phallus ravenelii) is more common to the east. The fungus is associated with rotting wood, and as such it is most commonly encountered in deciduous woods where it fruits from summer to late autumn, though it may also be found in conifer woods or even grassy areas such as parks and gardens. It may also form mycorrhizal associations with certain trees.



At the egg stage, pieces of the inner layer (the receptaculum) can be cut out with a knife and eaten raw They are crisp and crunchy with an attractive radishy taste. The fungus is enjoyed and eaten in France and parts of Germany, where it may be sold fresh or pickled and used in sausages. Similar species are consumed in China.

Medicinal properties

Venous thrombosis, the formation of a blot clot in a vein, is a common cause of death in breast cancer patients; patients with recurrent disease are typically maintained on anticoagulants for their lifetimes. A research study has suggested that extracts from P. impudicus can reduce the risk of this condition by reducing the incidence of platelet aggregation, and may have potential as a supportive preventative nutrition. It was used in medieval times as a cure for gout and as a love potion.

Folk uses

In Northern Montenegro peasants rub Phallus impudicus on the necks of bulls before bull fighting contests in an attempt to make them stronger. They are also fed to young bulls as they are thought to be a potent aphrodisiac.

chudy, maurydv, nglen, siggi, Argus, eng55, nasokoun, MMM, Noisette, Dis. Ac. has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • chudy Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 130 W: 0 N: 176] (899)
  • [2009-12-13 9:08]

Hi Jose!
Almost in the same time we sent our photographs, you were faster for the minute. I am inspecting galleries I am looking and there your snapshot. The nice composition, natural colours and the good contrast.
I am greeting Slawek

  • Great 
  • joska Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 806 W: 0 N: 4092] (22535)
  • [2009-12-13 10:00]

Excellent macro of this interesting mushroom species, natural colors and very good details!

Hello Jose,
a very good macro shot of this fungus, fine detail and very beautiful natural colours, excellent POV and close composition with a nice envrinment
Best regards

  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2009-12-13 11:02]

Hi Jose. Firstly thanks for the interesting notes. You have taken a fine close up of the Fungi. Taken with fine detail and natural colours. well taken TFS.

  • Great 
  • siggi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3097 W: 109 N: 12399] (52850)
  • [2009-12-13 12:01]

Hello Jose.
This,besides been a good and descriptive Phallus, is very artistic.Very good picture with great composition and sharpness. Very clear with, nice colours.
Best regards Siggi

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2009-12-13 12:05]

Hello José,
An excellent capture of this stinker!
The low POV, the sharpness, the habitat and the flies on the decaying hat contribute to a fine well composed image of Phallus impudicus, a common species in Sweden found in July and August. I am surprised that they are still to be seen in December in Portugal.
Thanks and have a good week,

  • Great 
  • eng55 Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1256 W: 42 N: 1976] (5892)
  • [2009-12-13 12:17]

Hola Jose,
Beautiful capture of this fungus.Exposure is spot on,details are crisp clear.Well caught and composed.
Thanks for posting..

hello Jose
very nice picture with good details and nice light
greeting lou

hello Jose
very interesting mushroom, the photo output is very good with fine natural colors and ggod details!
keep photographing! TFS

  • Great 
  • MMM Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1114 W: 0 N: 2546] (11425)
  • [2009-12-14 7:49]

Hello Jose
Beautiful macro of a species I do not recall seing before.Good low POV and nice DOF that allow us to see the natural habitat.
TFS Michel

  • Great 
  • fiyo Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1053 W: 5 N: 3475] (15161)
  • [2009-12-14 15:05]

Merhaba Jose,
bizim buralarda çok kıymetli olan bu mantarı çok güzel fotoğraflamışsın.
Tebrik edereim.

Hello Jose
a nice image of this Common Stinkhorn taken in a natural environment
beautiful details on this superb species, the colors are very nice too
very well done and have agood night

Hello Jose,

an good image from this phallus specie with good pov and details.
fine colours.


An amazing shot my.friend!I've never seen this fungus before!
A very Happy and prosperous New Year to you and your loved ones!

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