Let me begin by recounting the words ascribed to one of my favorite oddities in nature:
Repugnant. Fetid. Malodorous.
Truly, the basket stinkhorn is all these things, yet it is wonderous!
This fungus begins its brief display in what looks like an egg. Inside the egg is a compressed basked laden with a substance called gleba. The gleba is loaded with spores and the smell.
As if this isn’t already strange enough, when the egg opens and the basket begins to expand, a structure called the volva holds the rhizomorph roots in the ground.
From an egg to a basket! Once in full-basket bloom, the flies and insects begin to notice the stink, and are drawn to it. Spores are then spread by these visitors.
The basket stinkhorn always catches me off guard. When I catch a whiff of what smells like a dead animal, I start looking for just that. It isn’t long before I spy an orange-reddish basket and I realize it is not flora or fauna but fungus.
Commonly known as red cage, witch’s heart, lattice stinkhorn, and of course, basket stinkhorn.