Major Groups > Stinkhorns > Colus hirudinosus


Colus pusillus

[ Agaricomycetes > Phallales > Phallaceae > Colus . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

Is this thing cool, or what? Don't bet the house on my identification, however; the photos were sent to me from Australia in e-mails, and I have made my best guess, using a 30-year-old source, without actually examining the mushrooms. Normally, pages at this website represent North American mushrooms I have collected and/or studied--but I'm always willing to make exceptions for stinkhorns (see Lysurus corallocephalus for an African example).

The fused arms that form a stem-like structure define the genus Colus, but species within the genus "are not clear cut," according to stinkhorn expert D. M. Dring (1980). Colus hirudinosus is quite similar to Colus pusillus, and whether there is one variable species or several species with minor morphological differences is not clear. As of 1980, Colus pusillus was known from Australia, while Colus hirudinosus was documented from Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean.


Ecology: Saprobic; growing alone or gregariously; in woods or in cultivated areas; year-round in tropical and subtropical areas; possibly limited to Australia (see above).

Fruiting Body: Initially a whitish "egg" up to 2 cm across, attached to white cords; rupturing, with the stinkhorn emerging as a cage-like structure, 5-8 cm high, of about 10 corrugated, scarlet arms that are roughly triangular in cross-section and that fuse into a stem-like and slightly paler base composed of vertical columns; the inner surfaces of the cage covered with foul-smelling, olive brown slime; the egg tissue creating a whitish volva.

Microscopic Features: Spores 4.5-6 x 1.5-2 µ; cylindrical; smooth.

REFERENCES: (Berkeley, 1845) Reichert, 1940. (Saccardo, 1888; Dring, 1964; Dring, 1980.) I have not collected this mushroom.

This site contains no information about the edibility or toxicity of mushrooms.


Colus pusillus

Colus pusillus

Colus pusillus

Colus pusillus

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Kuo, M. (2010, May). Colus pusillus. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: