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Oh The Horror…

by germinatrix | January 12th, 2010

It began innocently enough.

The Original Minion and I were lifting up my firepit and adding backfill (it had sunk quite a bit), and in the process he discovered a massing of lavender/purple egg shaped things.

what ARE these things?

what ARE these things?

At first I thought that squirrels have been stealing passionfruits from my vine and burying them near the firepit, but then I realized that my passionflower doesn’t fruit. What the EFF?

how totally gross

how totally gross

So in the spirit of investigation I cut one open and found it to be disgustingly gooey and gelatinous inside. Surely this was SOME sort of rotting fruit – the Minion and I had probably stumbled across a cache of buried delicacies for a creature with disgusting taste. But then I dug one up and saw that it had a thin spindly root! Huh?

I gathered them up and put them on a table so the firepit work could continue, and I went inside to figure out the mystery. What were these things?

a table full of yuk

a table full of yuk

a single ball of yuk

a single ball of yuk

I know you all are thinking – why all the mystery? It’s OBVIOUS what they are. But I was not going there. It couldn’t be!!! NO! It was too soon…

But the unspeakable was unspeakable to happen…

please, not again!

please, not again!

Yes. Stinkhorns. Again. A huge lavender mob of stinkhorn eggs.

If the Minion hadn’t found them, I would have had a mass of uber-phallic demonic mushrooms popping up right at the entrance to my kitchen, wafting their hellish aroma into the heart of my hearth and home! Why is this happening?

I’ve written about the mycelium before, the “Mother Fungus” that lives beneath the soil. They sometimes grow to gargantuan proportions – one in Michigan is said to be forty acres long and wide! The “Mother” is interwoven into the soil; fairly impossible to detect by the average gardener, so we won’t know that we have a mycelium under our feet until the mushrooms start sprouting… and sprouting … and sprouting. I have seen a few other stinkhorns around the neighborhood, and have smelled their presence on several other occasions, so I think the mycelium we have in Eagle Rock might be a big one.

I always thought this stinkhorn was Phallus impudicus, but the lavender “egg” identifies my stinkhorn as Phallus hadriani, which is supposedly rare in California. Not In My Back Yard! If there was a market for stinkhorns, I could make some real money. But nobody wants a malodorous and vile mushroom whose form offends! And get THIS! The fruiting body is the ‘phallus’ – so what do you think the perverted mushroom scientists named the egg? The ‘volva’! OMG – see what these maniacs did? They basically created a fungal hermaphrodite – a phallus emerging from a volva. (Yes this is getting a little NC-17, but we are all adults here, right? RIGHT?)

another one bursts out of the egg, like the monster it is!

another one bursts out of the egg, like the monster it is!

I was SHOCKED to see that the collection of volva I’d placed on my lovely orange tiled table were sprouting their phalluses right there, out of soil, seemingly out of their element. It doesn’t matter to them!

what? ALL of them? aaaeeeeyyyyy!!!

what? ALL of them? aaaeeeeyyyyy!!!

- they are bent on bursting open and stretching out and spreading the horrifying odor of rotting flesh to attract the flies that will carry the sticky spores to the rest of the world. Beware.

the disgusting goo that contains the spores that flies will trasport to YOUR garden!

the disgusting goo that contains the spores that flies will transport to YOUR garden!

The terrifying invasion of the fungal hermaphrodites may have already begun…

28 Responses to “Oh The Horror…”

  1. You don’t ever eat of that table do you? I’m just thinkin…

    Germi these things are amazing! And gross. Totally gross and I can’t even smell them. I wish there was a black market for these horrific little specimens and you’d be rich! In the mean time be careful…I think the FCC might be watching you to see what you show us next!

  2. hahaha like a train wreck, eh? you want to look away but are intrigued.

  3. oh gawd, not again!!! Grosser than before… but I too cannot look away :) Hurry up and get that firepit fixed so you can burn these awful invaders. That’ll show em. Maybe?!

  4. The lavender eggs are intriguing that is for sure. These are the most incredible looking things I have ever seen, the vile creatures. I am so sorry you have to deal with them again.

  5. Omigod, Loree, Nicole, and Blake – you have NO IDEA! These things are definitely harbingers of the apocalypse. There could not BE a grosser, smellier, ghastlier thing to pop up in a garden! Maybe I shouldn’t have said that, lest a worse horror come up from the netherworld! YIKES!!!

  6. That’s crazy! I’ve never even heard of these man part shaped nasty things.

  7. Eww! I’m fascinated and grossed out at the same time. How weird that they kept *erupting* right there on the table. You should sell tickets. They don’t ever pop up at Halloween, do they?

  8. I read “It happened again, but this time it was a menacing horde of berserking Phalluses…” on FB and of course clicked on your link. Who could resist?

    I figured you were kidding, but yowsa, you aren’t. I have some big, icky brown mushrooms in my garden right now, too, but yours make mine seem almost dainty and fairylike. Certainly a lot more feminine!

  9. Megan, Thank your lucky stars you never heard of these disgusting hell ‘shrooms! And I sincerely hope you never have to come across one in person, because when you lose your innocence, it is lost forever…

    Pam! Help! Isn’t it SUPREMELY awful that they just kept on going out of the dirt? Somehow, that made them feel so EVIL to me! Maybe I’m over-doing it, but there is something very unwholesome going on here. If only I could figure out the timing of these ‘eruptions’, I could use the horror to my advantage, but until then I just have to squeal and freak out! And blog about it, of course!

    I had to find a title that conveyed the proper feeling, Debra – I’m so glad it worked! I feel the need to spread the word that stinkhorns are on the loose and are unnecessarily pornographic! Thank goodness your mushrooms are of a more appropriately “garden” variety… these P. hadriani can be truly disturbing!

  10. I am at once oddly aroused and completely terrified by your mushroom porn. I fear for your future… :( Be brave, be bold, be careful not to get that smell in your hair…

  11. Ew ew ew! So gross! They must really like you Ivette! The 5th picture down totally made me gag!

  12. Ewww!!! That is the grossest, coolest thing ever… The pictures of them ripping up and stinking away on your table… ugh! I had stink horns once in a previous yard (ugh… Thank goodness I moved!), but I never stumbled on their horrifying lair!
    (I want to see video of them in the next Germi TV episode…)

  13. Another award-winning post, Germi!
    Instructive…
    Illustrative…..
    and .. yes, HORRIFYING!
    Stinkhorns are new to me, & may they ever remain so!!!!!!
    xo
    Tendril to you ;~]

  14. ROFL! I had this feeling it would be them.

    But the volva (and the one in particular) look like testicles to me. I suppose they couldn’t call them testicles, though, because in Latin, testicles are orchids, and orchids are already called orchids. :)

  15. Oh. My. God. Those are the grossest things I’ve ever seen in anyone’s garden. But, the 13-year-old boy in me has to ask…would they have ‘sprouted’ for just anyone? Could it be your loveliness that invoked such behavior? “Is that a hadriani in your pocket or are you just glad to see me”….

    …sorry, I couldn’t resist.

  16. Stephanie 'Reno' Martin says:

    Indeed. They are gross. And yes, I agree with summer, they do look like testicles to me too. And MY, how fast they erect! I mean erupt! Funny, my mama warned me about many things, but it appears she left out the ‘stinkhorn’. Glad I don’t have any (knock on wood)!

  17. I would have been delighted to have these in my garden. And so much fun to blog about! I’m always hoping for more fungi. I’m lucky to get a few mushrooms once or twice a year. Congratulations!

  18. These are gross in a really funny kind of way. Kind of like the Borat of mushrooms.

  19. I have to say my first thought was that you’d discovered a nest of land turtle eggs. I thought, “oh, how totally cool!” So I was really dashed to see the reality was the antithesis of turtle eggs and so completely disgusting to boot.
    Now, how do you destroy them so the spores don’t get away and wreak more havoc?

  20. A little Biology 101 never hurt anyone.

  21. Also… maybe you can powder them and sell them as a medicine to the Chinese? Maybe you can convince them that it is a valid replacement for Rhino horn and save a few lives?

  22. Hi Jean Ann! I know – I am a hopeless garden pornographer, right? Hortsmut. I have to embrace it, because it just DROPS into my lap! Oh, look – there I go again! Sigh!
    …Good for you for admitting arousal. After all – um… well, … nevermind.

    Carri, that 5th picture is DEFINITELY the WORST. You should have seen my face when I went out and saw it had – erected itself on my tile table! YUK and YUKKER! But of course, I let the whole thing play out. In the interest of investigation. And an adolescent’s fascination with the grosser things in life!

    Joseph, you are tempting the GODS! If I were to throw down with the stinkhorns on camera, it may well be a clash of the titans. I can NOT have them overtaking my garden. I MUST take a stand, and if it is televised, well, so much the better! Even if I get dragged down to hell by a phallic mushroom, (maybe especially if I do!) the battle will be a wonder to watch!

    Oh Tendril, right here right now I am sending a puff of a wish out to the universe, making sure that stinkhorns stay far away from you! If I must be plagued so that you be saved, I’ll take that fall I’ll be that martyr. There must be SOME reason I am so vexed! Since I already have so many, I’ll harbor any stinkhorn that has the thought of going your way. I’m getting used to their offensiveness! No reason you have to go through it, too! XO!

    The volva DO look like testicles, Summer, which was why I was so thrown by the name! Why turn the mushroom into a hermaphrodit? Isn’t it hard enough being a horribly stinky phallic mushroom – now it is also a member of the intersexed community. And I had no idea that testicles are orchids in latin. That’s messed up. This is getting more x-rated as we progress! Thanks for the info! More Hortsmut to sift through!

    Leave it to you, Sweet One, to make the fact that I have phallic shrooms stalking me a comment on my state of sexy. You always bring the sunshine! XOXO!

    Stephanie ‘reno’! If only your Mama knew! In olden times, the ‘volva’ would be burned as soon as they were detected, lest the ‘member’ erect – I mean erupt (you started it!) and ruin the young maidens by making them go wild with desire. REALLY? Those olden times were whack! These fungal protrusions make me want to BARF!

    Chuck B! You are the ONLY happy commenter! My brain SCREECHED to a halt! But of COURSE it is wonderful fun to blog about, so I accept your congrats … and I’m going to sprinkle a few spores in your direction when I’m in San Francisco for the Garden Show!

    Dearest Willi! HAHAHA! The Borat of mushrooms – YES! Inappropriate, but sincere. Sincerely AWFUL! EEEeeeeewwww!

    Jane they are impossible to destroy, because the spores are tiny and mixed into the goo that slimes the top of the mushroom! Within seconds the flies are swarming, and the spores stick to their feet and that’s all she wrote – the promulgation of horrid fungus to the rest of Eagle Rock. We may become the stinkhorn capitol of California!

    Yes, Jenn, it’s true – but I still urge parents of the young fans of The Germinatrix (Lily- that means you – cover your eyes!) to make sure their children are well prepared for the graphic nature of this post. Or wait to show them the next post, which will be about aloe blooms. Nice and rated G. Well, okay, PG -13!
    Hmmm… I SHOULD look into the medicinal properties of the fungus. You KNOW it’ll be a cure for impotence! let’s save the rhinos! Stinkhorn powder = vegan viagra!

  23. Hi Ivette,
    Wow, these have been erupting in our yard for years, ever since our Oak tree fell and knocked over our Queen Palm. They’ve periodically been erupting from the queens spot ever since. I’ve often described them to various folks but to no avail, I’ve never found anyone familiar. Wow, thank you! You’ve solved the mystery. I love your site!
    Jacci

  24. Germi…Germi…Germi…

    The goo, the goo, I did not know about the goo! Ahhhh! Just when I thought the evil appendages couldn’t get any worse.

    It appears these horns are a burden for you to brunt once again. (think Frodo and the ring). I was both blown away, (forgive my derogatory choice of words, completely unintentional I assure you) and just laughing at this phenomena, your phenomena, almost paranormal phenomena! Just when I had just got through saying that you had had your fair share of the “cosmic joke” at the end of last year, this happens. It is like the movie “Poltergeist” where the house was built on top of a cemetery, it seems yours is positioned above a giant unmentionable, or perhaps I should say a whole bunch of purple unmentionables.

    Great photographs of the “old chaps” though, and you won’t want to insure those “family jewels”. Fnar fnar.

    It is an evil cosmic joke I tell you. Brrrrrrrrrrr.

    ESP.

  25. I have studied about mycelium in school times but had never ever thought that I’ll get to read about it in this manner…..It was a damn scary experience reading this post…..Because things sounded so fishy till the end.

  26. Sangelia says:

    From the link. it appears that they are at least edible in the egg stage. thing is, do they stink while in that stage?
    I’ve come across stinkhorns in the yard of my condo complex. and I have never ever had one that smelled to me.
    thing is, even if they were tasty in the egg stage. they would not be edible due to the amount of poison the yard dudes put on the commons here.

  27. I’m so thankful I found this post because this is exactly what I found in my garden this past week! How I’d you get rid of the problem? Are my vegetables all ruined now because of them? I threw the lettuce away that was directly next to these nasty things, but not sure I trust it….

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