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Natural Perspective

The Fungus Kingdom: Clathrus

(Last modified: 3 Jan 2002)

Latticed Stinkhorn (Clathrus ruber).

The latticed stinkhorn, though beautiful, is not readily admired by people who see it in the flesh. In fact, the slimy spore sacs and putrid smell evoke reactions far from admiration. Yet its beauty remains for those who can endure the olfactory assault or those, like you, who need only look at its printed likeness.

These fine specimens were collected for the San Francisco Mycological Society's Fungus Fair, December 1995. The eggs were found growing in wood chips among Nasturtiums. We arranged them in a basket to mimic their original habitat.

[photo:  Clathrus birth]

The fact that we found "eggs" just about to hatch was very fortuitous indeed. Not only did it provide this opportunity to photograph the sequence of growth and decline, but it also enabled us to transport them safely. The mature body is extremely fragile.

[photo:  Clathrus blossom]

The entire process, from egg to end took around 10 days in very damp weather.

[photo:  Clathrus death]

Even after the latticed bodies had shriveled up, the basal cup
(volva) still glistens with its own beautiful lattice work.

[photo:  Clathrus volva]
Phylum: Basidiomycota (spores produced on basidia)
Class: Homobasidiomycetae (substantial mushrooms)
Subclass: Gasteromycetes (spores grow internally)
Order: Phallales (stinkhorns)
Family: Clathraceae (branched or latticed)
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