Devil's Fingers: Clathrus Archeri's Toxicity

why is clathrus archeri inedible

Clathrus archeri, commonly known as the octopus stinkhorn or devil's fingers, is a fungus that is considered inedible due to its putrid smell. While it is not known to be toxic, the strong odour of rotting flesh emitted by the fungus in its mature state makes it unappealing for consumption.

The octopus stinkhorn grows in two distinct stages, beginning with an egg stage, followed by the emergence of fungal arms. During the egg stage, it forms a white, ball-like shape, resembling a “witch's egg”, which can be up to 5 cm high and 4 cm wide. As it matures, the fungus ruptures the egg, forming 4 to 8 elongated arms that reveal a pinkish-red interior coated with a dark-coloured spore-containing substance called gleba. This substance is responsible for the fungus's putrid odour, which serves to attract flies and other insects for spore dispersal.

Characteristics Values
Common Names Octopus Stinkhorn, Devil's Fingers, Helicopter Stinkhorn
Scientific Name Clathrus archeri
Synonyms Lysurus archeri, Anthurus archeri, Pseudocolus archeri, Aserophallus archeri
Appearance Long red fingers emerging from a partially buried white ball
Odor Putrid flesh, rotting meat
Taste Indistinctive, weakly somewhat radish-like when immature
Toxicity Not toxic
Edibility Inedible due to its putrid smell
Habitat Environments with abundant decaying organic matter, leaf litter, mulch, woodlands, grasslands
Distribution Global, believed to be endemic to southern Africa, New Zealand, Australia

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Clathrus archeri is inedible due to its putrid smell

Clathrus archeri, commonly known as the octopus stinkhorn or devil's fingers, is a fungus that is inedible due to its putrid smell. It is often described as looking like an alien creature, with its long red fingers emerging from a partially buried white ball. This unique appearance has earned it many different names, including devil's finger fungus, helicopter stinkhorn, and octopus stinkhorn.

Clathrus archeri has a distinct life cycle, beginning with an egg stage. During this initial phase, it forms a white, ball-like egg shape, similar to a golf ball in size. This egg stage can be spotted in leaf litter, wood chippings, and old stumps, often attached to the ground by a network of purple roots or a white mycelial cord. As the fungus matures, it ruptures the egg, giving rise to four to eight elongated arms. These arms are initially erect and attached at the top, but they soon unfold and spread outwards, resembling a starfish or octopus.

The inner surfaces of these arms are coated with a dark-olive spore-containing substance called gleba, which is responsible for the fungus's putrid odour. This strong, unpleasant smell is akin to that of rotting or putrid flesh. The purpose of this stench is to attract flies and other insects, which then become agents for spore dispersal. The flies are lured by the scent of rotting meat, and as they land on the inner surfaces of the arms, the spores stick to their legs and wings. As the flies move on, they carry the spores with them, facilitating the spread of Clathrus archeri.

While Clathrus archeri is not toxic, its repulsive odour makes it unappealing for consumption. Even in its immature egg stage, when it is considered edible, the taste is described as indistinctive, with only a weakly radish-like flavour. Therefore, due to its putrid smell, Clathrus archeri is deemed inedible.

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It is not considered toxic, but its unpleasant odour makes it unappetising

Clathrus archeri, commonly known as the octopus stinkhorn or devil's fingers, is a fungus with a distinctive appearance and an even more distinctive odour. While it is not considered toxic, its smell, likened to that of rotting or putrid flesh, makes it far from appetising.

Clathrus archeri grows in two distinct stages. The first is the egg stage, in which the fungus forms a white, ball-like egg shape, usually around 2-4cm in diameter. The second stage is when the fungal "arms" emerge. The arms, of which there are usually 4-6, but up to 8, grow to an average length of 10cm and are coated in a slime called gleba, which contains the spores. It is this slime that gives off the fungus's distinctive odour. The fungus's red-orange colour is due to the production of carotenoids.

The unpleasant odour of Clathrus archeri is not just a chance occurrence, but a key part of its survival strategy. The smell attracts flies, which then serve as agents for spore dispersal. When flies and other insects are drawn to the fungus by its smell, they land on the gleba, and the spores stick to their legs and wings. The flies then carry these spores with them as they travel, spreading them to new locations.

While Clathrus archeri is not toxic, its strong odour makes it unappetising to humans. However, it is considered edible in its immature egg stage, although it is often rejected due to its appearance and smell. In some countries, it is considered a delicacy at this stage. Dogs that eat this fungus are also usually unaffected.

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It is known as 'Devil's Fingers' due to its red, finger-like appearance

Clathrus archeri, commonly known as Devil's Fingers, is a fungus that has a distinctive appearance and an infamous smell. This fungus is often described as looking like an alien creature, with its long red fingers emerging from a partially buried white ball. This unique appearance has earned it many names, including Devil's Finger Fungus, Octopus Stinkhorn, and Helicopter Stinkhorn.

The Devil's Fingers fungus has a two-stage growth process. It begins as a white, egg-like structure, known as a witch's egg, which is attached to the ground by a network of purple roots or a white mycelial cord. This egg stage can be up to 5 cm high and 4 cm wide, with a smooth, whitish surface that may have spots of pinkish-brown discolouration.

As the fungus matures, it transforms into its distinctive finger-like form. The egg splits open, and four to eight red arms emerge, initially joined at the tip and gradually separating to form a star-like structure. These arms can grow up to 12 cm in length and are coated in a dark-olive spore-containing substance called gleba, which gives off a putrid odour of rotting flesh. The inner surfaces of the arms are a bright red-orange, while the outer surfaces are slightly paler, fading to pink.

The red, finger-like appearance of Clathrus archeri, coupled with its putrid smell, has earned it the name Devil's Fingers. This fungus is known for its unique and striking visuals, often described as something out of a horror or sci-fi movie. The red fingers, coated in a slimy substance, resemble something otherworldly or even demonic, making the name Devil's Fingers a fitting moniker.

While Clathrus archeri is not toxic, it is considered inedible due to its strong and unpleasant odour. However, it is believed that the fungus could be consumed at the egg stage, although its appearance and smell may deter most people.

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It grows in two distinct stages, first an egg stage, then the fungal 'arms' emerge

Clathrus archeri, commonly known as octopus stinkhorn or devil's fingers, is a fungus that grows in two distinct stages. Firstly, it forms a white ball-like egg shape, usually 2–3 cm in diameter. This egg stage can be pinkish or purplish and is edible, although it is often rejected because of its appearance and smell.

The second stage occurs when the fungal arms emerge. The thallus emerges from the egg in a starfish-like shape with 4-6 arms on average (up to 8). Each arm can grow up to 10 cm in length and is coated in gleba on the upper surface. The gleba is a dark-olive spore-containing substance that gives off a putrid smell, like rotting flesh. The fungus uses this scent to attract flies, which then serve as agents for spore dispersal.

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It is believed to be native to southern Africa, New Zealand and Australia, but has spread to other continents

Clathrus archeri is believed to be native to southern Africa, New Zealand, and Australia. However, it has spread beyond these regions and can now be found in various parts of the world.

Clathrus archeri, commonly known as the octopus stinkhorn or devil's fingers, is a fungus with a distinctive appearance and putrid odour. It is believed to be native to southern Africa, New Zealand, and Australia but has spread to other continents, including Europe and North America.

In Europe, Clathrus archeri was likely introduced via wool fabric or military supplies during World War I and has since become naturalised in the region. It was first discovered in the UK around 1914 and has since spread across much of the continent. Modelling studies in Poland predict that the species will continue to expand its range in northeast Europe.

Clathrus archeri has also spread to other parts of the world, including North and South America. It was recorded in California in the early 1980s and has been found in Colombia, India, and Lithuania.

The spread of Clathrus archeri is facilitated by its dispersal method, which involves attracting flies and other insects to its spores through its putrid odour. Climate change may also play a role in its expansion, with niche habitat loss expected to impact its range in Australia.

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Frequently asked questions

Clathrus Archeri is not toxic, but it is considered inedible due to its putrid smell of rotting flesh.

Clathrus Archeri is an exotic mushroom that grows in two distinct stages. The first stage is an egg stage, where it forms a white ball-like egg shape. In the second stage, fungal "arms" emerge from the egg in a starfish-like shape with 4-6 arms on average (up to 8). Each arm can grow up to 4.72 inches (12 cm) in length and is coated in a dark-olive spore-containing substance called gleba.

Clathrus Archeri is believed to be endemic to southern Africa, New Zealand, and Australia. However, it has been spreading to other continents and is now found in Europe, North America, and Asia.

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