Major Groups > Stinkhorns > Mutinus ravenelii


Mutinus ravenelii

[ Basidiomycota > Phallales > Phallaceae > Mutinus . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

In the mid 19th Century, Miles Berkeley, one of the founders of British mycology, received dried specimens of an interesting stinkhorn from his North American correspondent (myco-pal? shroom-bro?), Moses Curtis. The species appeared potentially different from Mutinus caninus, with which he was familiar. Later, when Curtis sent specimens "preserved in spirits" rather than dried, Berkeley decided that several features—including the red color, the "more compact texture," the stubby stature, and the perforated apex—meant a new species had to be described.

Berkeley conceded that the stubby stature was a variable character, and he was, well, wrong about the perforated apex, since both species develop a small hole regularly. But the color difference and the "more compact texture" do, indeed, separate Mutinus ravenelii and Mutinus caninus (the latter is an orange European species not found in North America; see Mutinus elegans for discussion).

The stem of Mutinus ravenelii, when fresh and unfaded, is red to pink, separating it, at least in North America, from any other Mutinus species in its range, since only the tropical Mutinus bambusinus is similarly colored; the range of Mutinus ravenelii is primarily northern, extending southward only in the Appalachian Mountains.

Thanks to Phoebe Ayers, Deborah Klein, and Judy Werner for documenting, collecting, and preserving Mutinus ravenelii for study; their collections are deposited in The Herbarium of Michael Kuo. Thanks to the Field Museum of Natural History for facilitating study of the collection cited below.


Ecology: Saprobic; growing alone or gregariously in gardens and cultivated areas, or in woods; summer and fall; originally described from South Carolina, "near the Santee River"; in North America distributed from the southern Appalachians northward and westward, to the Maritime Provinces, Washington, and Alaska—but also found in Mexico; fairly widely distributed in Europe; apparently also found in New Zealand. The illustrated and described collections are from Alaska, North Carolina, Vermont, and Washington.

Immature Fruiting Body: A whitish to faintly yellowish "egg" 1.5–2 cm high and 1–1.5 cm wide; surface smooth; when sliced revealing the stinkhorn-to-be encased in a gelatinous substance.

Mature Fruiting Body: 4–8 cm high; 1–1.5 cm thick at widest point; cylindric, often with a fairly abruptly rounded-off apex, but also frequently with a conic apex; hollow; spongy; finely to moderately pocked; pink to nearly red when fresh (paler toward the base); fading to pale pink or whitish; apex usually becoming perforated at maturity; when fresh covered with brown spore slime in a narrow apical zone that is sometimes well defined, or even constricted, at the lower edge; apical portion, under the spore slime, usually darker red; base encased in a whitish, sacklike volva; attached to thin white rhizomorphs.

Odor: Foul while the spore slime is present.

Microscopic Features: Spores 3–5 x 1.5–2 µm; cylindric or subcylindric; smooth; often with two tiny polar droplets; hyaline in KOH. Sphaerocysts of the pseudostipe 19–54 µm across; irregularly subglobose; walls 0.5–1 µm thick; smooth; hyaline in KOH. Hyphae of the volva 3–8 µm wide; smooth; septate; hyaline in KOH. Clamp connections not found.

REFERENCES: (M. J. Berkeley & M. A. Curtis, 1853) E. Fischer, 1888. (Lloyd, 1908; Coker & Couch, 1928; Barron, 1999; McNeil, 2006; Buczacki et al., 2012; da Silva et al., 2015; Baroni, 2017; Woehrel & Light, 2017; Læssøe & Petersen, 2019.) Herb. Kuo 06011503, 08281801, 09122001. Herb. F NAMA 2001W-153.

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Mutinus ravenelii

Mutinus ravenelii

Mutinus ravenelii

Mutinus ravenelii

Mutinus ravenelii

Cite this page as:

Kuo, M. (2021, August). Mutinus ravenelii. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site:

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