Mutinus elegans

Scientific name:  Mutinus elegans (Mont.) E. Fisch.
Derivation of name:  Elegans means "elegant."
SynonymsCorynites elegans Mont.  
Common name(s):  Elegant stinkhorn, Dog stinkhorn; Devil's
Phylum:   Basidiomycota
Order:   Phallales
Family:   Phallaceae
Occurrence on wood substrate:  Saprobic; solitary to grouped
on soil, mulch, wood chips, and decaying wood; June through
Dimensions:  Fruitbody 10-18 cm tall and 1.5-2.5 cm thick.   
Description:  Fruit body at first a white to pinkish egg- like
stage, resembling a puffball. The egg is attached to the
substrate by white mycelial strands (rhizomorphs). The outer
wall (peridium) of the egg splits and a hollow, spongy, stalk
expands which is deep pinkish-red above and paler to whitish
toward the base. The stalk tapers toward the tip from the
middle. A slimy, olive-brown, fetid spore mass covers the upper
1/3 (up to 6 cm) or more of the fruit body.
Edibility: Edible in the egg stage.
Comments:  Flies are attracted to the fetid slimy mass and
serve to disperse the spores. Compare this species with
Mutinus caninus and consult the website below for further
comments on these two species.

More information at   

Figure 1. Mutinus elegans growing in a woodland setting.
Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 2. The gracefully tapering stalk and a spore mass
covering at least 1/3 of the stalk are good field characters
for Mutinus elegans. Note the paler coloration near the
stalk base, the ruptured peridium of the egg, and the
rhizomorphs attached to the base of the egg.
Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 3. Dissected eggs of Mutinus elegans. The peridium,
dark spore mass on the upper stalk, and the reddish stalk are
all clearly observable. Photo © Cecily Franklin.

Figure 4. The reddish stalk can be seen where some of
the greenish spore mass was rubbed away.
Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 5. The stalk of Mutinus elegans is hollow.
Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 6. This specimen has a striking reddish
stipe. Photo © Pam Kaminski.

Figure 7. A dense cluster of Mutinus elegans growing in
a heavily wood-mulched landscape bed.
Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 8. Close up of the cluster in Figure 7.
Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 9. An interesting forked, spore-bearing portion of
one of the specimens in Figure 8. Photo © Gary

Figure 10. The elongating stalk is visible as it breaks
through the egg-like peridium. This photograph was taken
at 9:00 AM. See Figure 11. Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 11. The same specimen shown in Figure 10 but
photographed 12 hours later. The stalk has elongated
considerably. Perhaps due to immaturity, a portion of the
spore mass remains whitish.
Photo © Gary Emberger.


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This page © 2008 by Gary Emberger, Messiah College