A Redditor recently posted a picture of an out-of-this-world-looking mushroom that appeared after the rain, prompting a search to identify the unique species of fungus.
“This “alien mushroom” arrived this morning after the rain during the last days. Does someone know what it is? Looks like a mushroom. But which type?” wrote the poster above a photo of the fungus.
Like something from a sci-fi movie, the striking red fungus grows in a round or oval shape with spongy, cage-like interlacing branches.
“That’s wild, I’ve never seen anything like that one before,” one Redditor remarked. “Kind of cool.”
While many commenters naturally reacted with plenty of hot Cheetos and “Last of Us” jokes, they also quickly identified the otherworldly mushroom as a basket stinkhorn, scientifically known as clathrus ruber.
“If it looks alien, smells rotten, and pops up after a rain it’s most likely a stinkhorn,” one commenter identified.
“They produce a foul-smelling slime that attracts flies that would be attracted to feces. The flies get the spores all over them and disperse them,” another Redditor explained. “I’d advise digging it up if it’s near your house or it’s really going to bother you,” this user suggested.
In addition to its showstopping appearance and foul smell, the mushroom plays a unique role in the circle of life. The smell of the vibrant mushroom attracts flies to spread its spores and also supports the food chain.
“Sometimes you’ll see lizards hanging nearby waiting for the flies to come and they’ll eat the flies,” one Redditor noted, “Kinda cool how the lizards know that if nature builds it stinky, the flies will come!”
Mushrooms are critical to ecosystems, sharing nutrients and warning signs through an interconnected underground network of mycelium. Long used in food and medicine, mushrooms also play an important role for humans. Growing and foraging for mushrooms is a well-established hobby for many seeking edible species for their culinary delights.
However, you shouldn’t just pluck any mushroom that pops up in the yard, as many can be quite poisonous. Thankfully, there are numerous organizations to help identify mushrooms that may appear around your home.
While Redditors quelled fears of an alien invasion from this strange, cosmic-looking fungus, this commenter couldn’t help but appreciate the wonder of nature. “Stinky or not, this is super awesome! I love cool mushrooms.”
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