What is this smelly fungus?
January 21, 2008 10:07 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone help me identify a mysterious plant or fungus from my childhood?

I grew up in SW Georgia and we called it the "alien plant." Now that I look back, it had to be some kind of fungus. It was red and white, about the size of a baseball and the shape of a tulip with several "petals," for lack of a better word. It sat directly on the ground. It may be my memory playing tricks on me, but it seems like it appeared to be emerging from a white egg. It often appeared on hot humid days, sometimes after a rain (which is about half the year in South Georgia).

One more thing - it had an incredibly distinctive, pungent odor that could be smelled for several yards away. I can't remember exactly how it smelled, but I'd know it in an instant if I smelled it again.

Any help with identifying this odd lifeform would be greatly appreciated!
posted by robstercraw to Science & Nature (5 answers total)
It has to be an earthstar of some sort.
posted by shinybeast at 10:34 PM on January 21, 2008

Skunk cabbage?
posted by rtha at 10:40 PM on January 21, 2008

Then again, it could have been a Starfish Stinkhorn.
posted by shinybeast at 10:42 PM on January 21, 2008

That definitely led me down the right path. It turned out that the Clathrus columnatus was the smelly culprit. Thanks!
posted by robstercraw at 2:24 AM on January 22, 2008

No problem, but... Yecch! That is nasty. I've never found a stinkhorn in my many mushroom forays and I never hope to. I can relate to the smell though. One of the tastiest mushrooms on the planet, the King Bolete AKA the Porcini, can be smelled from 50 yards away once it starts decomposing.
posted by shinybeast at 2:50 AM on January 22, 2008

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