Stinkhorn is mushroom of the year 2020

Stinkhorn is mushroom of the year 2020

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The stinkhorn as a symbol for ecological interaction

The common stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus) has provided plenty of material for myths in the past. The foul smell of the fruiting body gave the stinkhorn the name of a corpse finger and the phallic shape caused outrage. Nevertheless, the common stinkhorn is a small masterpiece of ecological interaction and at the same time a delicacy among connoisseurs.

If the forest exudes a scent of carrion from early summer to late autumn, a stinkhorn might not be far. The mature fruiting body exudes an intense putrid smell that is perceptible for several meters. The German Society for Mycology recently named the common stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus) the mushroom of the year 2020.

When the forest stinks

The stink morel, which belongs to the mushroom flowers, first forms an egg-shaped or spherical fruiting body that is reminiscent in size and shape of a chicken egg. This stage of development is called witch egg. The around 20 cm long and 2 to 3 cm thick mushroom style grows out of the witch's egg. At the top of the style is an olive-green to black-green hat about 4.5 centimeters wide. The hat secretes a slimy, liquid substance that smells strongly of carrion.

A masterpiece of ecological interaction

The flies perceive the smell from a great distance and are attracted to the mushroom. The insects feed on the stinky substance and thereby absorb the fungal spores, which are then spread through the fly droppings. At the same time, the mushroom provides food, shelter and hunting grounds for many different types of insects. chose the stinkhorn as the mushroom of 2020 to draw attention to the death of insects and the complex relationships in the ecosystem.

Witch eggs as a delicacy

The unfolded stinkhorn is inedible. The witch eggs, on the other hand, are considered a delicacy. If you want to try them, you have to bring a little luck, because the mushroom only stays in this fragile stage for a few days. The fried core of the witch ice is a special taste experience. The white outer skin, the brownish gelatinous mass and the brown-green layer underneath are usually removed.

Misleading name

The name stinkhorn is a little misleading, since stinkhorn does not belong to the morel family - only the look is similar. This is also clear from the Latin name, because morels are referred to as morchella and belong to the genus of tubular fungi, whereas stinkhorns are called latin as phallus and belong to the genus of stand mushrooms.

Mythology and superstition

The scientific name "Phallus impudicus" means "lewd penis". The similarity to the male genital caused annoyance in earlier times. For example, Charles Darwin's daughter Henrietta had the mushroom removed from her surroundings for reasons of morality. According to popular belief, the mushroom grew on a burial mound as a sign that the deceased had taken an unpunished crime into the grave and warned of it with a "dead finger". (vb)

Read also: These stink morels can trigger a climax?

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • German Society for Mycology: Mushroom of the year 2020: Common stinkhorn (accessed: October 14, 2019),

Video: Found a NON EDIBLE Elegant Stinkhorn while mushroom hunting (July 2022).


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