Major Groups > Stinkhorns > Pseudocolus fusiformis


Pseudocolus fusiformis: The Stinky Squid

[ Agaricomycetes > Phallales > Phallaceae > Pseudocolus . . . ]

by Ron Meyers

Finding this very small attractive stinkhorn at the Overland Park Arboretum southwest of Kansas City was both a surprise and probably a bit of good luck. The mushroom had not been previously reported from Kansas. After the first spotting we were delighted to find several pristine specimens growing in the immediate area, causing a notable expenditure of photographic film.

All of the specimens we observed had only three arms, still fused at the top. I was able to locate several eggs, which I took home and “hatched” in a pot of moist soil. While this usually provides me with the best photo op for stinkhorns (I can get there before the flies), none of my “hatched” squids had enough backbone to stand and pose for a picture. But one of them did have four arms.

Pseudocolus fusiformis has been known in North America since 1915, when it was reported in Pittsburgh. Since then it has spread through the mid-Atlantic states and now at least as far west as Kansas.

Pseudocolus javanicus and Pseudocolus schellenbergiae are synonyms.

Clathrus archeri is very similar in appearance, but it has a shorter stem; arms that are paler, fewer in number, and which fold back sooner and farther; and it is not known from eastern North America. Clathrus columnatus is somewhat similar, but its arms do not arise from a shared stem, and the slime is only under the fused tips of arms.


Ecology: Saprobic; growing alone or in groups at the borders of woods, or in parks and gardens; common in various localities in eastern North America; summer and fall.

Fruiting Body: In the egg stage pale; jelly-like inside; with white rhizomorphs attached to the base. Later opening to produce a fruitbody 2.5-7 cm. high, consisting of 3-5 tapering arms that arise from a common stem; arms roughened, fused or free at the tips, whitish below and yellow to orange above; stem 2-4.5 cm long, 1.5-3 cm. thick, roughened, spongy, hollow; volva grayish brown to grayish or whitish, roughened above, wrinkled and tough; spore mass covering the inner side of the arms, olive-green to dark green, slimy, odorous, drying blackish.

Microscopic Features: Spores 4.5-5.5 x 2-2.5 µ; elliptical to egg-shaped; smooth.

REFERENCES: (Fischer, 1890) Lloyd, 1909. (Saccardo, 1891; Dring, 1980; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1981; Arora, 1986; Phillips, 1991/2005; Lincoff, 1992; Bessette, Miller, Bessette & Miller, 1995; Miller & Miller, 2006.)

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


Pseudocolus fusiformis

Pseudocolus fusiformis

Pseudocolus fusiformis

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Meyers, R. (2004, March). Pseudocolus fusiformis: The stinky squid. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: