Dept. of Biological Sciences.

Phallus indusiatus commonly known as stinkhorn belongs to the group of Baidiomycetes, which produce a phallic, often foul-scented. They possess an Indusium, a net-like structure that extends from the cap to the ground. It has a cosmopolitan distribution in tropical areas, where it grows in woodlands and gardens in rich soil and wellrotted woody material. 

The immature fruit bodies of Phallus species grow underground, are roughly spherical to ovoid, and have a soft or gelatinous surface. Conspicuous white rhizomorphs extend from the base of this structure and help to anchor it in the soil. The outer tissue layer, or peridium, is white to pale, smooth, firm-membranous. 

The fleshy spore-bearing part at the top is the Gleba. It produces the foul, carrion-like odor, which attracts insects that then help disperse the spores. Mosquitoes, however, that feed on the gleba are killed, suggesting the fungus may contain compounds that could be used as an attractant or biocontrol agent. 

 The Yoruba people of Nigeria call stinkhorn mushrooms Akufodewa, a combination of the words ku (die), fun (for), ode (hunter), and a (search). The Yoruba name reflects the belief that hunters, smelling the glebal odor in the forest, may mistake the smell for a dead animal and search for it. Phallus mushrooms are also used by the Yoruba, Urhobo and Ibibio people to prepare charms, which reputedly "has the power of making one invisible in the face of danger.

Other varieties of Phallus indusiatus with different colours of Indusium Phallus indusiatus from Okomu National Park, Edo State.

Photo credit: Imarhiagbe, O.

Posted by:
Marian Onwude Agbugui
on July 04, 2018


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