Scientists have captured a fascinating new time-lapse showing the birth and decay of a penis-shaped fungus infamous for its foul smell.
The fungus is the visible part of the stink bug (Phallus impudicus), which commonly grows near rotting wood and plants and can reach up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) above the ground. The stem is topped with a bell-shaped cap covered in olive-brown slime, known as gleba, which gives the mushroom its unmistakable smell.
“The smell of the stinkhorns has been described as similar to decaying flesh, rotting feces and sewage,” the University of Florida said in a statement. Website. Despite their foul smell, stinkhorns are edible. “Flavor Phallus impudicusknown as the common stink bug, it is said to resemble hazelnuts when eaten in the egg state,” the website said.
Stinkbugs emerge from a small egg-like base that is buried in the soil and tethered to the ground by white filaments. This base contains a drop of slime and spores that eventually become the smelly mushroom cap.
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In a new video, scientists captured the moment the stench emerged from its base and grew to full size within three hours.
“What you see in our video is the short lifespan of the fruiting body of the stink bug,” the Regionalforstamt Soest-Sauerland, the government forestry office for the Soest-Sauerland region in eastern Germany, said in a translation. Facebook post. “It took three weeks to make this video. The first two weeks nothing happened, we had to wait and constantly check the camera before we finally got this footage.”
Flies swarmed around the mushroom gleba as soon as it formed, the post said, attracted by the putrid smell. They feasted on the slime for 10 hours and stripped the fungus of its olive-brown casing. Over the next few days, the remaining white body, known as “corpse finger”, can be seen beginning to rot before slowly falling over. The footage then shows the fruiting body disintegrating and disappearing back into the ground.
This short life is enough time for the skunks to complete their reproductive cycle. According to the University of Florida, the fungus’s sticky cap is loaded with spores that flies and other invertebrates ingest as they eat the slime and disperse to new locations through their excrement.
This strategy differs from most mushroom-forming fungi, which disperse their spores by releasing them into the wind, and explains the fungi’s unpleasant odor, the site noted.