Mutinus sp. Mutinus sp. Fr.,    
Kingdom Fungi   >   Phylum Basidiomycota   >   Class Agaricomycetes   >   Order Phallales   >   Family Phallaceae   >   Genus Mutinus   


It is necessary to revisit the Mutinus genus as we are now aware of at least three species, some of whose fruiting bodies can be told with a fair amount of certainty without spore examination. Not all fruiting bodies can be told without spores (and two of the species have almost identical-size spores), but it is possible to make educated guesses for some photos (J. Solem, pers. comm., 2/25/2018).


From J. Solem (pers. comm.) (f.b.==fruiting body):
M. elegans - the only current Mutinus species in MBP. Most stinkhorns are found on the ground on wood chips or woody debris. The foul odor attracts flies and other insects; they disperse the spores.
--f.b. below head minutely pitted
--head gradually tapered
--f.b. usually slightly curved
--f.b. sometimes whitish/orangish/orange-red
--slimy head has ragged lower edge
--spores: 4-7 x 2-3 microns

M. ravenelli - on ground, on wood chips, mulch, decaying wood.
--f.b. below head with fairly large pits
--head stout, slightly swollen
--f.b. below head pinkish-rose
--head 3-5 cm, abrupt lower edge
--pore at apex (usually white volval remains)
--spores: 3-5 x 1.5-2 microns

M. caninus - may have to wait for additional research as this one used to be the one usually pictured in field guides but, just to add to the possibilities, here are characteristics (as defined by Kuo on his website and Baroni in his field guide--those are the major references I used to separate all three species).
--slightly smaller than other two
--f.b. orangish to orange-red--may be uniformly colored
--head is 2-3 cm, slime doesn't last long
--f.b. often has clinging volval remnants at base
--spores 3.5-5 x 1.5-2 microns

An additional similar reddish stinkhorn is Phallus rubicundus. In the Mutinus genus the gooey spores are found on the main fruiting body, not on a separate 'head.' In P. rubicundus, the 'head' is separate and only attached at the top of the stalk; the lower part usually stands out slightly from the rest of the f.b. The best way to determine that is to slice an entire f.b. lengthwise to see the attachment point, or note a cap whose lower edge seems to stand well away from the stalk.

Where to find:

Most stinkhorns are found on the ground on wood chips or woody debris. The foul odor attracts flies and other insects; they disperse the spores.

There are 13 records in the project database.

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A Mutinus species in Anne Arundel Co., Maryland (8/30/2017). Photo by Tyler Bell. (MBP list)

A Mutinus species in Caroline Co., Maryland (5/27/2015). Photo by Richard Orr. (MBP list)

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