September 2002

1. Mutinus elegans - How to Hatch a Stinkhorn Egg!  or  if you are looking for something unusual in planters for the garden   - SEE BELOW!

Additional Digishots: Clavicorona pyxidata, Gymnopus dryophilus, Agaricus sp.

2   PLUS 11 more selections. Click on individual species to access.Hypomyces lactifluorum, H. lactifluorum (ascospores)  Geastrum coronatum,  Heterotextus alpinaHygrophorus miniatus, Hygrophorus psittacinus,  Pleurotus dryinus,  Scutellinia erinacea,  Tricholoma virgatum, Xerula furfuracea, Polyporus squamosus, 

  wpe25.jpg (30861 bytes)

I got an E-mail this week, with a JPEG attachment, from a lady called Karen Grant.  Karen wrote;

"This morning when I walked out the front door of my house, I was greeted by a most unpleasant overpowering odour.  On further investigation I discovered the source of the odour, the strangest thing I have seen growing out of the ground.................

..........I believe the specimen in question is Mutinus ravenelii , however I thought I would check with you."

And thank goodness you did Karen!

Karen was pretty close.  The JPEG attachment was a nice digishot of Mutinus elegans.  Now M. elegans is pretty common in Kansas and probably many other places but in my wanderings around Southern Ontario I have  found it only once and it was a poor specimen at that.   So it never made my book!   Karen's picture showed more than two dozen fruitbodies!  So naturally I E-mailed Karen immediately and asked where she was located.  I new it wasn't Kansas by the way she spelled 'odour'!   Low and behold Karen lived about 15 kilometres from Guelph.  Lucky day!  So I headed off to Karen's place.   Again I was lucky.  There were a lot of mature specimens a bit on the old side but there were a number still at the 'egg' stage.  I gathered these up, shipped them home, dumped a sad looking begonia out of a planter pot, and replaced it with five eggs. I soaked the soil  well ( VERY WELL) and covered it up with another pot to keep it moist.   That night one egg had sprung up (hatched?) within a few hours.   Next day three more eggs had 'hatched' as you can see in the photo above and also CLICK HERE  or  HERE to see others.  The last egg (front right) germinated late because I there were no fungal hyphae attached, so it wasn't as easy for the egg to absorb the water necessary for expansion.

Postscripts

1.  The planter wasn't very popular with my wife but the flies loved it!

2.  All pictures were taken with a digicam (Nikon 995)..

3. In my orginal E-mail to Karen Grant I said I expected to find Mutinus fruitbodies in rich and/or well manured soil.   When I got there I found they were in nutrient poor debris under an old spruce that didn't look like it had been fertilized for a hundred years (click here) .  So much for theory!

4.   There are a number of good shots of M. elegans on the web but I think some of them are not M. elegans  as  illustrated here.   Mutinus caninus has a tall, skinny, white stalk and Tom Volk has a good image of it on his site (July 99). To check the differences between M. elegans and M. ravenelii click here

5.  The begonia died!

6.  Many years ago when I taught a course on fungi, an hour or two before the lecture, I put an egg of Mutinus ravenelii nested in a beaker of wet Kleenex, took it into the lecture room and left it on the bench.  One egg produced  a full grown stinkhorn by the end of the lecture.   However, as you can well imagine, this attracted a lot more interest than my lecture so I didn't  do it again!