A strange object was dug up while weeding in late August 2011. When first uncovered, it looked like the top of a button mushroom that you would buy from the shop to eat. However, on digging further, there was no stem to the mushroom. Not knowing what it was, it was completely excavated. It was about the size and shape of a chicken’s egg and was slightly squishy, like a hard-boiled egg. It also had rootlets coming from one point. Stranger still was that after only one or two minutes it started to change colour from white to purple. Still not knowing what it was, a few photographs were taken and it was returned to the ground.
A flick through the Fungi Field Guide led us to think that it could be a fungus of some sort, but which sort? The object was retrieved from the bush and cut in two to reveal the insides.
There was a central white core surrounded by what appeared to be a spore body. This was encased by a clear gelatinous material and covered by a thin purple skin. An email sent to Neale Bougher, a mycologist with DEC, brought us the answer. Our mystery object is most likely the immature stage of Hadrian’s Stinkhorn, Pallus hadrianii. We couldn’t find the mature stage, but Neale tells us that the head of the mature fruit is covered by the jelly and it smells like dog poo.