Oh dear god - what is that thing??
June 12, 2011 9:12 AM   Subscribe

OMG - what the hell is that? I appear to have an alien penis (or some sort of very odd plant) growing in my backyard. Please help me identify it.

This morning, just now, I went to take the trash out and stopped to pick up what at first glance looked like a bone. On second look I realized it had a burst pod of some sort on the end. And then I got totally creeped out.

It is coming out of the ground. And it *was NOT* there yesterday afternoon. It has the aforementioned burst pod, is pliable enough to bend, but other than nudging it with my toe and the measuring tape I would rather not touch it directly.

The whitish surface appears dry and enough like one to have me mistake it for it initially. The very tip has sand on it, but the rest looks greenish and veiny.

Any help in identifying this this to keep me from freakin the f out would be helpful.
posted by FlamingBore to Home & Garden (16 answers total)
This appears to be a Ravenel's Stinkhorn.
posted by DisreputableDog at 9:14 AM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Phallus impudicus (or maybe Weiner impudicus?)
posted by Ideefixe at 9:16 AM on June 12, 2011

It could also be a skirted stinkhorn.
posted by chrillsicka at 9:17 AM on June 12, 2011

A mushroom would never have occurred to me.

Thanks to you all. Now I guess I have to worry about getting rid of it and keeping it from coming back. Sounds vile. Any suggestions?
posted by FlamingBore at 9:22 AM on June 12, 2011

Dump boiling water on where it's growing.
posted by dfriedman at 9:24 AM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Or bleach.
posted by dfriedman at 9:24 AM on June 12, 2011

I believe mushrooms like to grow in soil that is rich in nitrogen...actually a sign of good soil. You could try a fungicide in the areas you don't want them growing. Salting the earth might be overkill, of course.
posted by samsara at 9:26 AM on June 12, 2011

"I have successfully used bleach to get rid of fairy ring. I also used it on the ugly, brown, slimy ones, but just when there is a "cluster" of them. I don't worry about individual ones. They seem to disappear on their own.

I pick the mushrooms and then carefully pour straight bleach onto the underlying mass that you can still see. Just a teaspoon or so will do the trick. It doesn't seem to kill my lawn. On fairy rings, I pour the bleach into holes that I punch into the ring. The ring disappears and the new grass fills in. I killed about 4 or 5 at our old house this way. But, as ever, I take no responsibility for anyone killing there lawn. My sometimes unorthodox ways are not always right, even though they work for me."

From just one site I found on the interwebs. Others also suggest changing the environment (make sure there's no dead wood buried in your garden/lawn) and putting gravel down instead of mulch.
posted by DisreputableDog at 9:28 AM on June 12, 2011

This particular area is a flagstone walk way so I wouldn't mind salting this area, as it were. Before or after I don rubber gloves and remove this bad boy? Or does it not matter?
posted by FlamingBore at 9:28 AM on June 12, 2011

I'd say it doesn't matter whether you use rubber gloves or not, as long as you wash your hands after. Merely touching a fungus isn't going to poison you. Breathing in its spores or eating it could. But it looks like its spores have already dispersed (which is one reason you'll be hard-pressed to keep it from coming back).
posted by dfriedman at 9:30 AM on June 12, 2011

Some mushrooms/toadstools/whatnotsis come back at the same spot, others don't. Their preferences for particular types of soil vary wildly; some live in symbiosis with threes, others don't; many of their mysteries are not yet fully researched.
You anyway can't get rid of the mycelium in the ground so I wouldn't bother. If this bugger begins to stink (which it quite likely may do), just pick it and throw it away.
posted by Namlit at 9:30 AM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Just sweep it away if you don't like it. No need for harsh chemicals. Relax, it's just part of the planet... it's not out to kill you.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 9:31 AM on June 12, 2011 [24 favorites]

We had one of these in the front yard last year. The smell will attract flies, which will carry it away for you. This mushroom has never come back. So I concur with Jeff-o-matic: relax, it will be gone soon never to trouble you again. Enjoy nature's saucy sense of humor!
posted by pickypicky at 9:37 AM on June 12, 2011

Picked, disposed of and used the boiled water trick. Considering it was just outside my backdoor and bedroom I'd rather not have it stink to high heaven. Thanks to you all for your help/input.
posted by FlamingBore at 9:53 AM on June 12, 2011

While on the subject of removal, I stumbled upon this TED talk while looking up the prevention of fungi like mycelium. Since this askme seems to be a case closed, I figured I'd share a facinating viewpoint on fungi...in retrospect of this one...for those times you spot some in other areas on the lawn. It covers a lot on how the organism works, and where it can be benificial.
posted by samsara at 10:40 AM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

You've only gotten rid of the fruiting body; the mycelium is still there. No need to bother with boiling water, just break it off and throw it away. Boiling water won't kill the mycelium in the soil.

Or bleach.

Soil is not soil if it doesn't have microorganisms in it. Plants need these microorganisms to make nutrients available in forms plants can take up. They're susceptible to being killed by bleach. Don't go around randomly dumping bleach in your garden. There's no point; you make small amounts of oraganochlorines as well, and they aren't good for you. The rest of it mostly turns into salt, and that's not good in the garden either. If you don't like mushrooms, grab a shovel and dig it out.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:50 AM on June 12, 2011 [6 favorites]

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