Sunday, 1 October 2017

20,000 leagues …

Anemone or Starfish Stinkhorn (Aseroë rubra)

The aptly named Anemone or Starfish Stinkhorn Aseröe rubra is arguably the most striking of all stinkhorn species found in Britain. It is a non-native species, having been first imported to England from Australia, probably via the Netherlands, in around 1829, when it was first observed in Kew Gardens, in Surrey. To date, 2017, all other known recorded sightings in Britain have been from a few closely linked locations in the county of Surrey. A. rubra remains a restricted and very rare find in Britain. Fairly common in parts of southeast Australia, A. rubra occurs as a native species in Tasmania, New Zealand, South Africa and on several isolated islands in the Pacific. From its natural habitat it appears to have travelled to other parts of the world in garden or soil related products.

Like the other members of the Clathraceae, A. rubra emerges from a partly buried, gelatinous, egg-shaped, volva. As the ‘egg’ ruptures, its delicate, pinkish, cylindrical stem rises and expands from which 5-11 starfish-like red arms extend outwards from a flattened central platform coated with a sticky, dark greenish-brown gleba [fleshy spore-bearing mass of certain fungi]; designed to attract flies which are the principal agents of spore dispersal.

My thanks to Nick Aplin for the above photomicrograph showing the oval-shaped basidiospores.


Buczacki, S., Shields, C. and Ovenden, D. (2012). Collins Fungi Guide: The most complete field guide to the mushrooms and toadstools of Britain & Ireland. London: HarperCollins, p. 448, fig. p. 449.
O’Reilly, P. (2016). Fascinated by Fungi – exploring the majesty and mystery, facts and fantasy of the quirkiest kingdom on earth. Llandysul: First Nature, p. 303.
Phillips, R. (2006). Mushrooms. London: Pan Macmillan, p. 339, fig. e.
Sterry, P. and Hughes. B. (2009). Collins Complete Guide to British Mushrooms and Toadstools. London: HarperCollins, p. 244, fig. p. 245.

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