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Lysurus mokusin: The Lantern Stinkhorn

[ Agaricomycetes > Phallales > Phallaceae > Lysurus . . . ]

by Ron Meyers

A large number of these "lantern stinkhorns" were found outside a downtown library in Lawrence, Kansas. I gathered several of the eggs, transplanted them to moist soil in a flower pot and was very successful in hatching them. This gave me the advantage of being able to photograph them before the flies cleaned the spore mass, although it was a battle to accomplish.

More photos of Lysurus mokusin, sent in by readers, can be found in the Stinkhorn Hall of Fame.

Description:

Ecology: Saprobic; growing alone, densely gregariously, or clustered in lawns, gardens, hard-packed soil. They have been reported from the Chesapeake Bay area, Texas, and Washington D.C., and are common in southern California. They have also been reported from greenhouses.

Fruiting Body: 6-16 cm high, consisting of a stalk that is branched above into 4-6 arms which normally remain joined at the tips. The arms are 0.8 to 3 cm long, thick, pink to reddish-orange, bowed to form a lantern-like structure. The stalk is 0.5-2 cm thick, and a cross-section reveals a tubular, angular stem with ribs corresponding to the number of arms. The stalk is pink to reddish-pink above, tapering downward to a white base.

Flesh: Fragile, minutely chambered, white to pink.

Spore mass: Borne in the vertical depressions between the arms, slimy, light brown to olive-brown and becoming darker as it dries, with a typically unpleasant stinkhorn odor.

Microscopic Features: Spores 3.5-4.5 x 1.5-2 µ, oblong, smooth, nearly hyaline.

REFERENCES: (Linnaeus) Fries, 1823. (Saccardo, 1888; Dring, 1980; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1981; Arora, 1986.)

Lysurus cruciatus is very similar to Lysurus mokusin but its stem is round rather than angular. The illustrated specimens were paler than those in photographs I have seen in guidebooks and on the Internet and paler than those found by Hugh Smith in California, to the right), but they did have a pink cast. The stalk is very weak and tends to become arched rather than standing upright. While Arora makes no mention of wood debris for a substrate, Lincoff lists wood debris and leaf litter for similar species. Probably the specimens in the photograph were a result of the importation of wood chips.

 

Lysurus mokusin

Lysurus mokusin

Lysurus mokusin

Lysurus mokusin
Time-lapse video!

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Cite this page as:

Meyers, R. (2003, March). Lysurus mokusin: The lantern stinkhorn. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: http://www.mushroomexpert.com/lysurus_mokusin.html