Kerry’s Garden

The trials and tribulations of one Kentucky gardener…

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Dog Stinkhorn aka Mutinus caninus

May 7th, 2006 · 53 Comments

Dog Stinkhorn (Mutinus caninus) coming up next to rhubarb.

According to Simon & Schuster’s guide to Mushrooms, the Dog Stinkhorn arises from a white or pale yellow “egg” and is covered by a fetid slime. Mmmmm. Not surprisingly the edibility is listed as “of no interest”. Elsewhere I read that the slime attracts flies which pick up the mushroom’s spores and deposit them elsewhere helping to spread this one around. I found two in my side bed, one next to a small rhubarb and one near the highbush cranberry. These are about the size of your pinky in length and diameter but some text says they can get several times that size. Strange critter indeed.

Tags: Critters

53 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Susan Karcher // May 19, 2006 at 8:08 am

    THE ONLY THING I CAN’T FIND ON THE WEB IS INFORMATION ON IF THIS IS POSIONIUS OR NOT. I FOUND THESE STINKHORNS IN MY STRAWBERRY PATCH AND I WAS CONCERNED FOR MY CHILDRENS SAFTY. PLEASE REPLY IF I HAVE ANYTHING TO WORRY ABOUT

    THANK YOU!!!!
    SUSAN KARCHER

  • 2 kerry // May 19, 2006 at 8:37 am

    Susan,

    The only thing I found in my mushroom book was that they are not of any interest where edibility is concerned. I can say that normally that book lists something as poisonous if it is. That being said I wouldn’t count on it as being edible. To be honest with you, it is slimy/sticky and I imagine it smells bad given the name and the fact that it depends on flies to spread it’s spores (I’ve not ventured down to take whiff so I’m going on a hunch here). I don’t know how old your kids are but unless they are into eating smelly/slimy things they are probably safe. If they are old enough to be in the strawberry patch on their own they should be able to recognize this one and stay away from it. If they are very small you might want to get rid of them (the mushrooms, not the kids ;-) ) when you find them just to be safe. On the bright side, like most mushrooms they don’t last long once things dry up.

  • 3 shirley // May 31, 2006 at 2:55 pm

    My garden is plagued with quite a few of these. YUCK! I have been digging down thru the mulch and getting out the little”bulbs” , or “eggs” and cutting them thru with a knife. That seems to kill them. But then more are coming up in other areas. They smell SO unpleasant, it is sometimes not fun to go out to look at my beautiful flowers!!! Is there anyway to stop them from spreading? I hate them!!!

  • 4 kerry // May 31, 2006 at 5:52 pm

    Fungii spread via spores and need specific conditions to grow. I would try removing the balls/eggs as the mushrooms appear. Does your mulch stay fairly damp? Perhaps letting it dry out will slow them down a bit. Also, since they are a fungus I would have to wonder if a fungicide might work but thats a question for someone with more knowledge about the topic than I have.

  • 5 Jim Krupnik // Aug 30, 2006 at 5:22 pm

    All stinkhorns are edible. The Dog Stinkhorn in particular is considered a delicacy by the Chinese, and can be bought in dried form at specialty shops (without the sticky, stinky spore goo).

    Forget about getting rid of them, as it’s easier to pick them off as they pop up, and your kids and pets are safe around them. Even if you keep your mulch fairly dry, one nice rain can induce a crop of them overnight. Good luck!

  • 6 Tom // Sep 1, 2006 at 11:50 am

    Where would I find information to get rid of these stinky things?

  • 7 Sandra Schwab // Sep 27, 2006 at 6:10 pm

    9/27/2006: Thank you for helping us to identify this very WEIRD GROSS fungus that popped up in our gardens today after a wet, cool week~ talk about freaky and P-EEEEWWWWWWWEEEEE! LOL!!

    Sandra in Wisconsin

  • 8 andrewbarkhorn // Oct 6, 2006 at 8:47 am

    You are not alone.. I have them in my garden as well.. had them in the spring before i knew what they were and now they are everywhere.. i have dug up my mulch and found thousands of eggs..
    I’m sure the only way to get rid of them is to remove them once they appear and dig around the area.. where theres one theres more than likely many more.. i get up each morning with a mission to get rid of this fungus.. the worst is finding them growing in the center of a perennial or grass.. u need to get the whole ball out and the surrounding ones ..

  • 9 …whole life » Blog Archive » nasty bits // Oct 10, 2006 at 8:17 pm

    [...] That was my first run-in with stinkhorns, and I quickly read up on them. They are a very odd bunch. Others have blogged about them, and a few others have dedicated whole pages to them. [...]

  • 10 Laurie // Oct 16, 2006 at 10:09 pm

    These funky looking and smelling mushrooms are all over my neighborhood in flower patches, by trees, anywhere where there is mulch. Problem is my 20 pound dog seems to love these sinkhorns and can sniff them out nearly a block away. I keep him on the leash but he has grabbed a lot of them despite my efforts to keep him away. He got very sick from eating them and my neighbors dog ate some too and was well lets says, losing it from both ends. I would definately keep them away from your dogs and I have read that they are not edible.

  • 11 fawn // Oct 20, 2006 at 9:05 am

    how do you get rid of them ??????

  • 12 Kevin // Dec 19, 2006 at 6:21 pm

    I just dug up and buried a patch of these and I want to puke! The first one I found a few years ago really freaked me out. I thought I had bought a house ona toxic waste site. check this out. My variety is at the bottom of the page. http://botit.botany.wisc.edu/toms_fungi/july99.html

  • 13 Elizabeth // Feb 11, 2007 at 11:12 pm

    What does it do to humans??? Does it have a negative or positive effect and what are we doing about it???

  • 14 Sexarina // Feb 11, 2007 at 11:14 pm

    Say wat?!?!?!? why u talkin bout theses suckers we should b choppin them down they smell like…well u no!!!

  • 15 Ruth // Mar 7, 2007 at 9:27 pm

    I want to know how to get rid of them, too! I have a bunch in one of my flower beds and think I’ll puke if i try to dig them up. There’s got to be something else to get rid of them….

  • 16 Mary // Jul 14, 2007 at 12:54 am

    These disgusting things seem to be spreading and getting worse every summer! They started in one small area and now are in almost all of my flower beds! Has anyone found a way to kill them off without digging them up or damaging flowers and other plants?

  • 17 xiangyik // Jul 14, 2007 at 2:50 am

    There really is no way to get rid of these things–as long as the fungal mycelium (which is microscopic, lives in the ground and is utterly impossible to get rid of no matter what you do) still exists. Oh wait, actually there is. 1. Get a construction company to remove all your soil in your garden and replace it. 2. Get rid of your garden and pave it over. What is suggest is: learn to appreciate them. That was what I did. Stinky, yes, but I still find it extremely ironic that people can claim to genuinely love flowers but go into paroxysms of disgust when a strange and unique fungus pops up in their backyard.
    Anyway, just to let you know 1. that the presence of this fungus in your mulch actually helps to drastically speed up decomposition and release more nutrients from the mulch and 2. no members of the phallaceae are all HARMLESS and several members are in fact edible. I’ve tried them and they have no smell when cooked and the slime is removed and are actually quite good.

  • 18 arizona // Oct 31, 2007 at 10:21 pm

    I work at a vet, and our veterinarian contacted a university research department about this fungus. The university said it wasn’t toxic (to a dog).

  • 19 Heather // Jan 11, 2008 at 10:33 am

    They smell and look so bad. I was told to pour bleach all over the area everytime they show up. The only down fall is the bleach can kill the roots of your other plants. At this point it is worth it to me.

  • 20 strange fungus investigator // Jun 21, 2008 at 1:12 am

    They certainly are wierd.

  • 21 Meg // Jul 14, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    This is our second year of the stinkhorn. It is disgusting. Can you use the bleach in a spray bottle, I wonder? We dig it up every day, only to see dozens more the next morning.
    As for toxicity, I read that they are supposedly a “delicacy” in China. How gross is that?

  • 22 kerry // Jul 17, 2008 at 9:28 am

    Once the spores are in the soil/mulch etc they will sprout given the proper conditions.

    I would be very wary of spraying bleach. I would look for an organic fungicide if you feel the need to spray. We don’t get that many so I just knock them over or pull them out if I see them.

  • 23 tracie // Jul 30, 2008 at 8:57 am

    it was only this summer, the first year in my new home, did i discover orange stinkhorns in my backyard. i knew what it was immediately, and was curious to know more, but not to know that it’s difficult to get rid of them! so far, i’ve been digging them up as soon as they sprout. i’ve heard suggestions of bleach and round-up, but i believe this will kill any surrounding plants. as others have said, try a fungicide. i’ve read of a product called no-damp, that fights fungus disease (website listed). some home remedies could be to try boiling water (at least 104 degrees) and also salt- i read of someone trying this and it working to get rid of the smell… i don’t want to see these stinkers around next summer too, so i suppose i’ll have to take my own advice now…

  • 24 Theresa // Aug 23, 2008 at 11:21 pm

    Does anyone know if the spores are dangerous. I also have kids and dogs. I feel like I’m getting mixed answers from the blogs. Dogs are getting sick but people are COOKING and DRYING them to eat. Are they dangerouse while they are alive and slimy and sporing? Also for the people actually touching them, were you wearing gloves. If not did anything happen to your skin? I feel like if something omits that kind of oder it’s not a good sign!!!

  • 25 cassie perkins // Aug 24, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    The only thing poisonous is the sticky, smelly spore goo on the top. It causes great intestinal upset. Also, I found these creepy things a few days ago and after contacting every person on the face of the earth, the department of agriculture for the state of New Jersey suggested just using 2 tablespoons of baking soda to one gallon of water and spraying the flower beds or portion of your yard and it kills them. Well, I am happy to report, I have not seen any since I sprayed 10 days ago.

  • 26 kerry // Aug 26, 2008 at 8:59 am

    I didn’t realize these things were that common. I really couldn’t see eating them. I’ve never smelled them but the name and shape alone would keep them off of my plate. We have been so dry lately that I haven’t seen them this year at all.

    The baking soda treatment is something I have heard of before for other fungal diseases. It must be that they need a somewhat acid environment to survive. A drop of dish soap in the water will act as a surfactant and help the solution ‘stick’.

  • 27 Ann // Sep 7, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    I have these mushrooms all over my flower beds – spreading quickly. The more I dig them up, the more appear the next day!
    I wish there was someway to get rid of these nasty looking ‘shrooms.
    If anyone knows how to destroy these, please advise…. THANKS

  • 28 Kathleen // Sep 29, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    OMG……..these things are disgusting! They have taken over my whole garden. I just spent a fortune on all new flowers, shrubs etc…and these gross things are killing everything. I dug up hundreds of them and there were dozens standing at attention the next morning. I don’t care how good they are for decomposition, they’re ugly and I just want to get rid of them. I will definaaaatley try the baking soda.

  • 29 Samantha // Oct 19, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    Like one person posted (#17) there is no way to get rid of these. They just popped up in my front flowerbed over the past month or so and are spreading quickly. Both my neighbor and I were concerned about them – as she has a toddler and we both have cats and dogs – so I did some research online. Unless you dig up all your mulch – which is usually where they get their start – you are seriously out of luck. Personally I get a bang out of showing the neighbor kids the “witches fingers” that are growing in my yard, especially around this time of the year! From what I’ve read, they are a delicacy in China, are edible – “raw” or dried (w/o the slime/spores), are EXTREMELY STINKY (firsthand knowledge there) and are not going anywhere. Like the saying goes – “A weed is but an unloved flower” perhaps we can think of one for this funky phallic fungus?

  • 30 Candice // Mar 13, 2009 at 5:47 am

    Hi everyone, so glad i’m not the only one with these awful things in my garden. As they may be a delicacy somewhere there are loads of different types, which some of have been known if eaten to be deadly in small dogs/ cats.
    They are also impossible to get rid of- unless of course your prepared to give up your garden/turf and concrete or pave.

  • 31 jojo // Apr 1, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    that was very interesting and i would like to know in what season of the year do stinkhorn grow

  • 32 Karen // May 14, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    There were five of these creepy pinkish fungi sticking up along the sidewalk today. . I pulled one up to look at it. GROSS. Slimy and Tubular. They looked like fingers! Nightmares tonight for sure. And what will happen tomorrow? I’d go peek outside now to see if there are any more but I’m afraid to.

  • 33 Shaun // May 16, 2009 at 10:52 am

    We have found a number of these growing in the oak leaf mulch under our apple trees. The are wonderfully unusual and stinky! We love them! Why are people so freaked out about the unusual?

  • 34 Debi // Jun 3, 2009 at 10:18 am

    I can’t seem to get rid of them. As the stink horn continues to spread through out my garden will it begin to kill my plants? I have liriope, fountain grass and mops?

  • 35 kerry // Jun 7, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    I doubt it will hurt your plants. It will probably happily grow alongside them. Since fungi tend to feed on decaying matter I would imagine their negative impact as far as nutrients go would be minimal if anything.

  • 36 Rob // Aug 2, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    So glad I found this site, this fungus is extremely unsightly. Oddly enough, my girlfriend and I haven’t smelled any unusual odors from the phallic looking things. Granted, we tend to only see one to two at a time in our mulch. We live in a townhome community where it seems that we are the only lucky people to have these visitors. I will definitely try the baking soda trick, we’ve been searching for a way to bring death to them for some time now. I’m tired of digging hundreds of white balls up from the mulch!!!

  • 37 Matt // Aug 3, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    The thing that bothers me most is the flies.
    It’s hard to enjoy a small yard with flies buzzing all around.
    I like the baking soda idea and will definitely try it.
    I already tried using an organic fungicide and it completely wiped out my tiger lillies planted in the bed…luckily they’re hardy as hell.

  • 38 Mark // Aug 6, 2009 at 9:29 am

    I have a similar issue with ‘earth ball’ mushrooms. Started last year with just a few but this year my front garden is completely infested with them. I can dig up 20-30 one day and find 30-40+ the next day in their place. They are inedible, fairly foul smelling. They are yellowish brown on the outside and filled with a deep purple slime (yuck!). Eventually they sort of collapse and release their spores as powder. I am goign to try the baking soda suggestion but any other ways to get rid of this plague appreciated!

  • 39 kerry // Aug 9, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    So how is the baking soda working? Anyone have any luck with it?

  • 40 Laura // Aug 14, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    I found these in my garden outside my portable classroom where I teach first grade. I made this garden last year to plant some bulbs that were donated by “clean and green.” I know I can’t use anything toxic at the school and certainly don’t wish to. I have parents and students who will be visiting in a week for orientation and want to be rid of these by then. I am going to try a combination of digging and baking soda-ing. We have been having TONS of rain here in the panhandle of Florida and I was told this brings them on. Perhaps I will pull up all the mulch as well and put new stuff down. I do not know very much about gardening though and don’t wish to harm the bulbs…they provide great teaching moments for my class.

  • 41 sue // Aug 28, 2009 at 8:18 am

    These things have been plauging us for 2 years now. They were in our mulch, so I dug up all the eggs I could find, then we sprayed it all with fungicide, covered it with heavy-duty weed control plastic, and covered that with a layer of stone. Guess what? The nasty things are STILL coming up!! It’s so disheartening.

  • 42 laisez faire // Sep 4, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    I found one being devoured by a slug – so encourage slugs in your gardens…
    It’s obvious from the previous comments that spinsters should avert their eyes and avoid touching anything this phallic

  • 43 Debra // Sep 23, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    After spending an entire Sunday afternoon online trying to figure out what the phallic orange things erect in my landscaping were, I proceeded to dig them up. We dug up many beds of stinkhorn mushrooms. Then we poured a STRONG mix of Bonide 811 Copper 4E Fungicide on the infected beds. It’s been 2-3 months and I haven’t seen any more stinkhorns in the landscaping beds that were treated.

  • 44 Rob // Oct 4, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    I think these things are really interesting. But I haven’t found any in my yard yet. Then it could be a different story.

  • 45 Patricia // Jun 14, 2010 at 11:42 am

    I have tried pouring dish soap directly on the fungi. It seems to help somewhat, but then there they are again. It is discouraging, as I work so hard at keeping my flowerbeds looking good. As you know flowers aren’t cheap. I will try the soda and the fungicide. -Thanks

  • 46 Addison IL // Jun 14, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    I recently added new mulch and find I have hundreds of them. They pop up as I am clearing others. They grow 1/4 inch in a minute according to: http://www.answers.com/topic/what-is-unusual-about-the-stinkhorn-fungus-dictyophora

    I just keep pulling them out. But I have discovered that the spores are in the air and they caused me to have infected eyes. Be careful. Use protective eyewear.

  • 47 Brooke // Apr 27, 2011 at 9:45 am

    It sounds like fighting these is almost impossible. If we leave them alone, how much worse will it get? Are they only common during curtain months or will they be visiting all year?

  • 48 Gina // Jul 5, 2011 at 8:56 am

    I, too, am fighting the never ending stinkhorn battle. I am going to try the baking soda solution. It started last year when the guys that mow our lawn put down their mulch on the flower bed. Now I go out every morning with disposable gloves and a plastic bag. When I did one up I search for the spores (eggs) and dig them up as well. Maybe it would be worse, but there seem to be more and more every day and they are spreading. I don’t care if they are part of nature, they are gross and I don’t want them in my flower bed or my grass.

  • 49 Anonymous // Sep 23, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    Are they rare to north America particularly ohio

  • 50 Cindy // Oct 6, 2011 at 10:45 am

    My Cocker ate one (?) on these and required a trip to the emergency room. She could not walk, was hyper-salivating and who knows what it was doing to her stomach and brain. She recovered after about 1 1/2 hours and treatment at the ER, plus carafate and Pepcid the next day. Thanks for tips on how to get rid of them!

  • 51 rudy // Jan 6, 2012 at 7:05 am

    just because your vet came up with they are not harmful to dogs does not mean there not my 7 month lab ate a few yesterday and about died so yes they will harm pets and i have a vet bill to prove it

  • 52 Elaine // Apr 24, 2012 at 11:12 am

    They are in Ok. too. My dog ate one and got sick for a week. She didn’t eat and ofcoarse was so weak I had to go to the Vet with her. She is fine now but I go and check my yard everyday. They are growing in my grass. I will also try the baking soda spray.

  • 53 Laureen // Sep 28, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    We are suddenly getting these fungi in our yard and very large and tall by the way. It looks like 8 to 10 inch individual crab claws with slime on the ends. My concern is several of us in the household are allergic to mold. I have strange unexplained skin issues and my mother and daughter have unexplained coughs that aren’t going away. Is this due to the stink horns? Do we need to convince my dad to get rid of them and how do we do so without killing everything else? Kindly respond to Laureen at LMStrugala@hotmail.com 9/28/12 Thank you

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