Gardener Shares ‘Alien’ Mushroom: ‘I’ve never seen anything like that one before’

Have you ever stumbled upon something in your garden that looked so out of this world, you thought it might be an alien?

Well, somebody found a peculiar mushroom that made its appearance after a rainy spell, sparking curiosity and intrigue among gardening enthusiasts.

The Alien Landing

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Illustration. Image Credit: Piotr Velixar/Shutterstock.

One morning, after several days of rain, a gardener was greeted by an unusual sight in their garden. A strange mushroom, unlike any other they had seen before, had sprouted.

Its appearance was so unique that it was quickly dubbed the “alien mushroom.”

The gardener, eager to identify this mysterious growth, turned to the online gardening community for answers.

Many speculated about its origins, with some suggesting it might be the Clathrus ruber, a type of mushroom known for its otherworldly appearance.

As quickly as the excitement began, it seemed to wane.

The gardener later updated the community, humorously noting that the “alien invasion” had ceased.

The mysterious mushroom began to shrink and collapse, much to the amusement and relief of those following the story.

Origins and Distribution: Clathrus ruber

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Image Credit: Flaviya/Shutterstock.

The Clathrus ruber or red-cage fungus is a fascinating species, believed to have been introduced to northern Europe rather than being native. This remarkable fungus is often mistaken for something other than a fungus due to its unique appearance.

It resembles a cage, emerging from a white ball or ‘egg’, earning it the nickname ‘cage stinkhorn’.

While some claim the egg is edible, others warn against consuming it due to potential gastric upsets.

This fungus is rare in mainland Britain but is more commonly found in the Channel Islands.

It’s also prevalent in central and southern Europe, with sightings in places like the Algarve region of Portugal. Additionally, the Clathrus ruber has been recorded in Asia and North America.

The Clathrus ruber was first scientifically described by Pier Antonio Micheli, an Italian botanist who discovered fungal spores. It was later given its current scientific name in 1801 by Christiaan Hendrick Persoon.

Etymology

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Image Credit: Philip George Jones/Shutterstock.

The name Clathrus means ‘a cage’, and ruber translates to red, referencing the color of most fungi in this genus.

In France, this stinkhorn is known as Coeur de Sorcière, meaning Sorceror’s Heart.

Its red hue, attributed to the presence of carotenes, intensifies the smell of rotting meat, which is characteristic of this mushroom.

Appearance and Structure

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Image Credit: Govorov Evgeny/Shutterstock.

The Clathrus ruber, often likened to an orange “Wiffle football,” is a sight to behold. Its unique lattice-like structure consists of a mesh of arms that surround semi-regular openings.

As it matures, the lower meshes sometimes elongate vertically, giving the appearance of supporting columns.

The outer surfaces of the arms can become flattened with age and are roughened or bumpy between the meshes.

It’s vibrant orangish-red to red color fades to a pinkish or pinkish-orange as it matures.

Ecology and Habitat

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Image Credit: PolyakovaN/Shutterstock.

This mushroom is saprobic, meaning it feeds on decaying organic matter. It’s commonly found near woody debris, in lawns, gardens, and cultivated soil.

While it’s native to the Mediterranean, it has spread to temperate Europe.

In North America, it’s found in places like Mexico and California, with regular sightings in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. It’s also known to grow in Asia.

Life Cycle

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Image Credit: cem kurtulus/Shutterstock.

The Clathrus ruber starts its life as a whitish to faintly brownish “egg” that’s 3–5 cm across. When this “egg” is sliced open, it reveals the orange to orangish-red stinkhorn encased in a brownish gelatinous substance.

The “egg” bursts open as it matures to reveal the mushroom’s unique cage-like structure.

Is it Harmful?

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The interior surfaces of the Clathrus ruber are coated with a foul-smelling slime that attracts flies and other insects. This slime aids in the dispersion of the mushroom’s spores.

While the smell is off-putting, no specific information about its edibility or toxicity exists. However, as with many wild mushrooms, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and avoid consumption.

Beneficial Role

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Image Credit: Julia Zavalishina/Shutterstock.

The Clathrus ruber plays a crucial role in the ecosystem by breaking down organic matter, thus recycling nutrients back into the soil.

Its ability to attract flies and other insects also aids in the pollination of other plants and the overall health of the garden ecosystem.

The Clathrus ruber’s alien-like appearance and unique life cycle is a testament to nature’s wonders.

While it might seem out of place in a garden, its role in the ecosystem is undeniable.

Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a curious onlooker, the appearance of this mushroom is sure to spark intrigue and admiration for the mysteries of the natural world.

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Sources

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Image Credit: Krakenimages.com/DepositPhotos.
  1. reddit.com/r/gardening/comments/1596tbu/this_alien_mushroom_arrived_this_morning_after/
  2. mushroomexpert.com/clathrus_ruber.html

This article was produced and syndicated by Viral Chatter. It was inspired by this post:

This “alien mushroom” arrived this morning after the rain during the last days. Does someone know what it is? Looks like a mushroom. But which type?
by u/I-Am-Vicky in gardening

Martha A. Lavallie
Martha A. Lavallie
Author & Editor | + posts

Martha is a journalist with close to a decade of experience in uncovering and reporting on the most compelling stories of our time. Passionate about staying ahead of the curve, she specializes in shedding light on trending topics and captivating global narratives. Her insightful articles have garnered acclaim, making her a trusted voice in today's dynamic media landscape.