First Day of Spring Stinkhorn

First-Day-of-Spring Stinkhorn!

This tableau was spearing from the brush-pile today, which is where we store the dog’s tennis balls.
Just when I needed a good laugh. 

“Devil’s Dipstick” is one common name. (There are others…) It’s a type of stinkhorn.

I made my family COME OUTSIDE AND LOOK, but they were not as enthusiastic as they might have been. Granted, the slug wasn’t present at the time, and granted, I make my family COME OUTSIDE AND LOOK pretty often, including every March, when dipsticks pop up in the brushpile or under the hackberries or where we cut down the privet. Dipsticks love woody debris.

What you can’t see from the slug photo is the white, leathery “egg” from which the fleshy, fruiting body emerged. Fabulously weird.

Here are more dipsticks from the yard today:

Mutinus elegans
the “eggs”

Things to know:

• Dipsticks don’t hurt anyone, so there’s no need to try and kill them. In fact, they might save us with powerful antibacterial properties, so Long live the Devil’s Dipstick!

• The genus—Mutinus—was a phallic marriage deity in Ancient Rome. 

• The slug will carry the stinkhorn’s spores elsewhere, as will the fungus gnats and flies attracted to the revolting, caramel-colored goo. “Elsewhere” might include your yard, if you are lucky.

•Other stinkhorn species will appear later, and in the same places.
I’ll keep you posted, in case you are enthusiastic…

•Brushpile Public Service Announcement:
Brushpiles are extremely beneficial to wildlife, from invertebrates to mammals. We make ours by tossing other people’s Christmas trees into the yard.
Our brushpile is where chipmunks escape the neighbor’s cat,
where garter snakes sun,
where nesting robins grab building material,
where passionvine sprawls,
and now, where stinkhorns make me laugh even when I’m anxious.

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Good info about this stinkhorn is at

#sidewalknature #urbannature #backyardnature #gardeningforwildlife #fungi #stinkhorns #mutinuselegans #brushpileecology #naturewriting

o o o

About the Author:

My Instagram feed is 100% nature, and most of it the Sidewalk kind.
No selfies. No shots of my teacup unless there is a noteworthy plant or animal floating in it.

I don’t like facebook, but some folks are on it who aren’t on Instagram, so I post nature things there from time to time.

Bio: Joanna Brichetto is a naturalist in Nashville, the hackberry-tree capital of the world. She writes about everyday wonders amid everyday habitat loss, and has essays at BrevityFourth GenreHippocampusThe HopperFlyway, The CommonCity CreaturesThe Fourth River and other journals. Her current project is a book of linked essays called Paradise in a Parking Lot.

One thought on “First Day of Spring Stinkhorn

  1. I am pretty certain that we don’t have those over here. They are interesting though.

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