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Extension > Garden > Yard and Garden > Diseases > Stinkhorns

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Linda Treeful and Cynthia Ash

drawing of a tall mushroom The name stinkhorn aptly describes the appearance and smell of a certain group of fungi. The sight and smell of stinkhorns are distinctive and not likely to be forgotten. Several different kinds of stinkhorns can be found in Minnesota. Stinkhorns can be found in lawns, around the base of dead trees, or in flowerbeds mulched with wood chips. In the woods, they are commonly found near uprooted trees, near decayed logs, or in humus. They are usually produced during wet, cool periods in late summer and fall. They are not harmful, and no control is necessary.

Young stinkhorns develop within a spherical or flattened "egg", one to three inches in diameter, which may be white, pink, lilac, or flesh colored. Stinkhorn eggs are not desirable as food and their consumption is not recommended.

Cutting through a mature egg will reveal a fully developed mushroom cap with spores. Eventually, the mushroom stalk, also inside the egg, elongates. Under ideal conditions, stalks may elongate in as little as one half-hour. The tip of the horn or cap is often covered with green, sticky slime that has a disagreeable odor. This slime contains sticky spores and attracts flies which disseminate the fungal spores.

Stinkhorn development may be followed by placing mature eggs on top of some moist earth or leaves in a shallow container and moving the whole apparatus to a cool place outdoors. The remains of the ruptured egg will be apparent around the base of the stalk. The fully developed fruiting body may range from 6 to 10 inches in height and is more or less horn shaped.

Christensen, Clyde M. 1974. Common Fleshy Fungi. Burgess Publ. Co., Minneapolis, MN. 237 pp. (see pp. 208- 210)
Lincoff, Gary H. 1981. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York. 926 pp. (see pp. 831-836)
Miller, Orson K., Jr. 1972. Mushrooms of North America. E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc., New York. 360 pp. (see pp. 190- 193)


2000, Revised by Chad Behrendt and Crystal Floyd

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