Our world is full of mysteries and maybe some of us have found strange creatures lurking in our backyard. We have seen in the news different creatures found all over the world and it would not be a surprise when we find one close to home. Recently, it has been reported that a woman saw a mysterious egg in her backyard and she did not know what to do with it! Since it was an egg, she immediately assumed that it’s a bird’s egg. Little did she know that it was something else.
When the egg started to hatch, she made sure to document it. However, what came out of the egg surprised her! Nope, it wasn’t a bird. It was a fungus known as Clathrus archeri or in layman’s term, ‘Devil’s Fingers.’
Clathrus archeri is known for two names: “Octopus Stinkhorn” and “Devil’s Fingers.” Yup! Weird names, but you will later on learn the reason behind these names. This is a fungus that can be found worldwide. This is indigenous to countries like Australia and Tasmania. It was later on introduced to Europe, North America, and Asia. This young fungus will erupt from a sub erumpent egg and will form four to seven elongated slender arms. They will look erect and are commonly attached at the top. The fungus has spread across America since it arrived around the 80s.
While it develops, the arms will then unfold to reveal a pinkish-red inside that will be covered with dark olive spores that contains gleba or a fleshy spore-bearing inner mass of fungi like the ones on Devil’s Fingers. Once the Devil’s Fingers mature, it will smell awful, like putrid flesh! This is why others call this the Octopus Stinkhorn. This fungus is commonly found clustered in moist and shaded meadows or mixed forests usually from July to September. Because of its color and foul odor, the ripe fungus resembles the smell of a decaying flesh which is why they can easily attract flies which is their way to spread the gleba.
According to experts, this fungus is a bit of an intruder. However, while others feel grossed out with it, some people are interested in its existence. One of them is Andrew N Miller, Ph.D., a mycologist from Illinois Natural History Survey. According to him, this fungus is a ‘paradigm of smart evolution.’ He said, “Some people like flowers. Some like fungi” and he is definitely one of the fungi lovers of this planet! What amazed him most is how this fungus reproduce. He says, “The fungus is pretty smart.”
This fungus looks poisonous but in reality, this is edible. However, because of its foul odor and horrible taste, no one would dare give it a try, maybe unless you have a taste for exotic foods! The taste is very foul but for those who were brave enough to try it, they say that the seeds taste like radish. According to scientists, you should only eat this fungus if it is really necessary during survival circumstances.
One can only imagine the shock of this woman who witnessed the hatching of this fungus. It looks like straight from the movie “Alien” which is why you cannot blame home gardeners when they freak out the moment they see the Devil’s Fingers in their backyards.