‘Alien fungus’ stinks, but won’t attack

IT'S ALIVE: This creepy creature grew in a Pottsville resident's garden.
Courtesy: Jodie Edmunds.
IT'S ALIVE: This creepy creature grew in a Pottsville resident's garden. Courtesy: Jodie Edmunds.

A MYSTERIOUS fungus has sparked a wave of 'alien invasion' fears for the Tweed.

Residents on a Pottsville Community website were startled when Jodie Edmunds published a photo of the octopus-like growth she found in a garden bed.

The hellish plant reportedly had the "stench of death", causing Linda Carmody-Armstrong to ask if the "green mass" had "legs".

Another resident suggested it was a "triffid" - a fictitious, tall, mobile, prolific and highly venomous plant species from 50s horror novel The Day of the Triffids.

Joanne Mitchell-Osborn said she had come "across one in Canberra".

An expert has revealed the plant is simply a stinkhorn mushroom.

It grows to eight inches in size and, although smelly, is usefully breaks down rotted material into nourishing plant food.

JH Williams Garden Centre Murwillumbah shop assistant Raan Anglim said its perfume mimics putrid rotting meat to attract blow flies to eat and distribute the spores.

Mr Anglim said unlike triffids, there had been no reports of the fungus attacking humans.

"They're not overly toxic but I'm a little bit dubious of brightly coloured things in nature because they can indicate a poisonous defence mechanism aimed at predators," Mr Anglim said.

He said the stinkhorn was referred to as a "mushroom" in the genus of the phallus, a group of basidiomycetes which produce a phallic-shaped mushroom.

"According to articles I have read, stinkhorns are a high market delicacy in China and get eaten once the slime is removed," Mr Anglim said.

Stinkhorns are seasonal and don't last long, but all you can do is "close the windows and wait it out".

Use a shovel to remove an entire bulb, otherwise you risk breaking the plant and allowing more spores to fall out.

Topics:  fungus offbeat

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