Phallus indusiatus

Another entry from Taisha, who writes:

The image shared today is of Phallus indusiatus, a fungal species commonly known as bridal veil stinkhorn or crinoline stinkhorn (among many other names). The photo was taken by Mike Bush (aka aviac@Flickr) at the Singapore Botanic Garden in November of 2009, and was uploaded to the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool. Thanks for contributing, Mike!

The Phallaceae, or the stinkhorn family, is doubly aptly-named; members are typically phallic in form as well as malodorous. The odour originates from the spore slime found on the cap of the fruiting body. The Phallaceae are gasteroid fungi, meaning their spores are produced internally on the fruiting body. Other gasteroids include puffballs, earthstars, and bird’s nest fungi.

Wet weather prompts Phallus indusiatus to fruit, with the fruiting body first emerging from the ground as an egg-like structure. Within this structure (covered by a white peridium or skin) is the developing fruiting body of the fungus. At this stage, it is covered in a gelatinous matrix, called the gleba. Upon maturation of the spores, the stinkhorn expands. The stalk elongates, rupturing the peridium and extending upward. The cap (called the head) bears an odorous mass of olive-green slime containing the spores. Flies, beetles and other insects are attracted to the foul smell and end up helping the spores disperse. Shortly after the stalk expands, the indusium unfurls skirt-like from where it was tucked under the cap, eventually (almost) touching the ground (see: The Kingdom Fungi: The Biology of Mushrooms, Molds, and Lichens, by Steven L. Stephenson, or Mushrooms Demystified by David Arora).

To see a video of the fruiting of Phallus indusiatus, you can watch this timelapse video (via ODAKATOSHIO’s science videos on Youtube) or this timelapse clip from BBC Nature.

Phallus indusiatus

7 responses to “Phallus indusiatus”

  1. Stannous Flouride

    Appropriately, indusiatus means ‘undergarments’ in Latin.

  2. Elizabeth Revell

    What a beauty! But what (if anything apart from beauty) is the purpose of the indusium, if the spores are already on the cap?

  3. Jessica

    Another weird and wacky little beauty.
    Thanks so much! 😀

  4. Peony Fan

    Amazing photograph! Thanks for sharing. I, too, wonder what, if any, is the purpose of the indusium?

  5. Lunar owl

    What amazing stitchery in the indusiam! Is it sack-like, or sheet-like? Thank you for all this wonderful information.

  6. Lynne

    So beautiful! And I have the same question as Elizabeth R.: What is the purpose of the indusium?

  7. Joey

    “Although the function of the indusium is not known definitively, it may visually entice insects not otherwise attracted by the odour, and serve as a ladder for crawling insects to reach the gleba.” so says

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