#CreatureFeature – Clathrus archeri (Devils fingers/ Octopus stinkhorn)

Fungus is fascinating; not plants and not quite animals! Fungus are in a taxonomic group all of their own. Devils fingers look terrifying erupting from the earth, a bit like curly octopus’s tentacles. This is why the fungi can also be known as Octopus Stinkhorn.

The devils fingers fungus hatches from a gelatinous egg, bursting out to reveal from four to seven red fingers. At first emergence, the tentacles are joined at the top and later open up to reveal the pinkish red interior which is covered in a dark spore containing gleba.

To attract pollinating flies, the devils fingers fungus produces an odor similar to decomposing flesh. Whilst the unknowing fly is on the fungus’s surface, the sticky gleba attaches to the fly whereby its spores are dispersed.

This fungus has a global distribution and is reported to have originated in Australia. The photo below was taken at Murchison House Station in July

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clathrus_archeri

https://www.britannica.com/science/fungus

Jarna Kendle – Senior Biodiversity Officer

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