Strange Happenings: Phallic Mushrooms

Disclaimer: This very well may be the strangest post I've written to date, but I had to share. It's just too freaking weird not to share. If you're not into really weird stuff (or slightly curious about things) that I find around my home or yard, feel free come back tomorrow for a "Sunday Cooking" post! I promise I won't drop the phrase "penis-shaped" in that post.

That being said...

The tagline for this blog has been "It's Always Something" since I started writing it. That subtitle refers to the notion that when you own a home, something is always on the fritz and/or something interesting always seems to surprise you. It's not creative nor funny, but it's true - so it's sticking for now.

Pertaining to the aforementioned "interesting" part of home ownership... I'd like to address what this post's title is all about, since you have to be wondering, right?

I was walking through the yard yesterday morning, raking some leaves out of the garden beds. Among the leaves and dying marigolds, something shiny caught my eye in a small bed to the right of the porch steps.

I cleared some leaves out of the way to get a better look.

Phallic Mushroom

No, you're not imagining it. Like you, I was surprised to find some sort of phallic mushroom growing out of my soon-to-be-dormant garden bed. I was even more surprised to find four more after that one.

Naturally, I had to Google it to address a few of my many questions: What is it? Why is it in my garden? How do I get rid of it?

But...what would I type into Google? I started with search terms like "Phallic Mushroom" and "Shiny Mushroom Tip" and was met with great success. Nothing humanly gross came up in the images, thank God. The weird pregnancy things I've been searching coupled with my penis-shaped mushroom search would have anyone seriously questioning my web history of late.

As far as I can tell, the phallic shroom growing in my garden is Phallus ravenelii, or more commonly known as Ravenel's stinkhorn. Yes. "Stinkhorn."

Apparently, this type of mushroom has a shiny cap (which you should be able to see in my pictures) that "is covered in a foul-smelling olive-green spore slime, which attracts insects that help to spread the spores." Thanks, Wikipedia. "Foul-smelling?" "Spore slime?" "Insects?" I was so grossed out at this point, but also intrigued in a sick way. I had to know if this wacky fungus was actually growing in my well-maintained garden bed.

So, I went back outside to get a better look. I did NOT get close enough to smell anything foul but sure enough, as soon as I neared close enough to study the "cap," I saw that the slimy-looking part was covered in flies. I wanted to throw up. Seriously. I know it's natural, blah, blah, blah, but stop. Ugh.

As far as my three questions are concerned...

What is it? I just explained it a few lines up...

Why is it in my garden? They show up in Eastern North America. I live in Eastern North America. It likes a habitat rich in wood debris, such as a mulched garden. Remember how I called my garden "well-maintained?" You better believe it's mulched and fertilized.

...and possibly the most important question and really... the only one I care about now that I know far too much about Phallaceae...

How do I get rid of it? Bleach and boiling hot water is one option but I'm not going that route since it's within 25 feet of our well. Our other option is simple and kind of comical, when laid out in cartoon-y graphics that I found on Wikihow: How to Kill a Stinkhorn Fungus. Original source here. The first picture has me cracking up like a teenager. I blame the hormones.

So yeah, that's how I'll be spending my Saturday morning: using latex-gloved hands to scoop penis-shaped mushrooms and they're testicle-shaped eggs out of my garden bed. No, the tagline for this blog is not creative nor funny but COME. ON. It's always something!

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