Major Groups > Stinkhorns > Clathrus crispus


Clathrus crispus

[ Basidiomycota > Agaricomycetes > Phallales > Clathraceae > Clathrus . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

Clathrus crispus appears with some frequency in Florida and along the Gulf Coast, to judge from emails I receive. It is an outlandish and exotic looking stinkhorn reminiscent of a red to pink "Wiffle ball"—except for the God-awful stench that results from the brown spore slime that covers the inner edges of the lattice. Clathrus ruber, which appears in California and parts of Mexico, is similar but lacks the "coronas" that define Clathrus crispus: each of the "holes" created by the lattice appears radially pocketed or grooved around its edge. Additionally, Clathrus ruber tends to be wider and a bit more orange, and its arms usually develop flattened outer edges more noticeably. The two species can also be separated, under the microscope, by the size of their spores.

Thanks to Stephanie Strange and Elaine Nelson for documenting, collecting, and preserving Clathrus crispus for study; their collections are deposited in The Herbarium of Michael Kuo.


Ecology: Saprobic; growing alone or gregariously, often near woody debris, in lawns, gardens, cultivated soil, and so on; Florida, the Gulf Coast, the Caribbean, and Mexico; also found in South America; appearing nearly year-round. The illustrated and described collections are from Florida.

Immature Fruiting Body: Like a whitish to faintly brownish "egg" 3–5 cm high; when sliced revealing the red stinkhorn-to-be encased in a brownish gelatinous substance.

Mature Fruiting Body: 5–12 cm high; 4–8 cm wide; consisting of a roundish mesh of arms that surround semi-regular openings, creating a lattice-like structure; with maturity the lower meshes sometimes become elongated vertically, almost appearing like supporting columns; often with a pseudo-stem-like base; base attached to white rhizomorphs and sometimes encased in a white volva.

Arms: Up to about 1 cm thick; hollow; spongy and soft; pocketed and/or grooved between meshes; red, fading to pinkish or pinkish orange.

Volva: Sac-like, encasing the base of the fruiting body; whitish.

Spore Slime: Brown; produced on the inner edges of the arms; malodorous.

Microscopic Features: Spores 3–4 x 1.5–2 µm; cylindric; smooth; hyaline in KOH; often with one small droplet near each end. Sphaerocysts of the branch context 14–37 µm across; subglobose to irregular; smooth; walls 0.5–1 µm thick; hyaline in KOH. Volval hyphae 2–4 µm wide; smooth; thin-walled; hyaline in KOH.

REFERENCES: Turpin, 1820. (Saccardo, 1888; Lloyd, 1909; Dring, 1980; Calonge et al., 2004; Maldonado-Ramírez & Torres-Pratts, 2005; Coetzee, 2010.) Herb. Kuo 06011201, 08071601.

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Clathrus crispus

Clathrus crispus

Clathrus crispus

Clathrus crispus

Clathrus crispus

Clathrus crispus

Clathrus crispus
Sphaerocysts of the branch context

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Kuo, M. (2020, March). Clathrus crispus. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: