The martians have landed.

 witch's eggs -- stinkhorn fungi

witch's eggs -- stinkhorn fungi

I found these in my yard last fall. It looked just like someone had planted hard-boiled eggs in the gravel.

They stayed there for a couple of weeks, not changing much except that the two that are buried more deeply got a little taller. (There are five in the photo. Can you find them all?)

Then one day…

Stinkhorn mushrooms

Stinkhorn Mushrooms

They hatched! My “eggs” sprouted thick-stemmed mushrooms with a top that looks like a wilted leaf.  Stinkhorn mushrooms, as these are called, secrete a sticky, dirty-sock-smelling substance all over their green cap. This goo contains the mushroom’s spores and also attracts flies, who enjoy the smell.  (See the fly in the photo?) When these flies walk on the mushroom’s cap, they get the spores on their legs and spread them around so more stinkhorns can grow. Fun, eh?

Withered Stinkhorns

Withered Stinkhorns

But alas, my new garden…er…fungi were not to last. Within a week, they wilted and dried up. I wonder where they’ll pop up next?

By the way, I learned from Wikipedia that  stinkhorn mushrooms are edible. In fact, part of the interior of the “eggs” is supposed to taste  like crunchy radishes. Hmmm. I’m not sure I’m ready to try them just yet.


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