A Stinkhorn and a Cardinal

Top Photo: May be Phallus rubicundus.

Stinkhorns are fungi. They’re often found in mulch around plantings of trees, shrubs, or flowers. Originally egg-shaped and white, the red/orange horn arises from the “egg” in the substrate and develops a slimy brownish mass near the tip. This mass is the spore bearing material called a gleba.

Elegant stinkhorn (Mutinus elegans). Egg-like structure (left) which will become a stinkhorn as on right. Note brownish-green top half of stinkhorn, the spore mass.

The gleba produces a putrid smell which attracts certain insects, including green bottle flies, to the stinkhorns. The bottle flies and other insects spread the spores to other locations either through their excrement or by attachment of the sticky spores to their bodies and subsequent drop-off elsewhere.

The stinkhorn above is elegant stinkhorn (Mutinus elegans). The rest of the photos may be devil’s stinkhorn (Phallus rubicundus) which is not a North American species though it has been recorded here. Note how the spore mass on the elegant stinkhorn is greenish and covers nearly half of the stem. The spore mass on the other specimens here are restricted to the tip and are much darker and more brown.

Devil’s stinkhorn (Phallus rubicundus).
The stinkhorn doesn’t last long and may be gone in a day’s time.
Northern cardinal sitting on nest.

While searching for caterpillars in a willow oak in Catch the Wind, I happened to spot a cardinal’s nest. The female was sitting on the nest. She apparently has eggs in the nest.

This nest is probably the second brood for this cardinal. It’s not unusual for cardinals to have two broods. It seems to be the norm here.

While the female incubates the male is off feeding and tutoring the young from the first brood. It’s purely anecdotal, but it seems the second brood nest is less sturdily built than the first and there are fewer birds fledged from later broods.

Female looks down at me.

There’s always something new going on out in the Wild.





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