Posted on | March 27, 2012 | 3 Comments
The appearance of this mushroom after a much-needed rain in the Los Angeles foothills demanded that I Find The Camera. In the interim between putting the photo on Facebook this morning with a request for an ID and getting a response to an e-mailed query from Los Angeles County Natural History Museum mycologist Florence Nishida this evening, speculation as to its genus involved unbridled merriment. Southern California resident treasure, memoirist Erika Schickel, ventured that it was a Micropenisula shlongaeria. My own suspicion had been a Phallus anthonyweinerii. After more ribald speculation and some genuine mycological story-telling on the social network, Nishida’s response by e-mail in early evening had a “eureka” quality.
You are a lucky girl,” she wrote, “nature has gifted you with a stinkhorn, aka phalloid fungus. It’s probably Lysurus borealis, though another species is very common in southern California, Lysurus mokusin. Just looking at your photo, that’s my guess. L. borealis has arms meeting at the tips, but not fused, and the arms are pale flesh color; the gleba (spore mass) is brownish green. L. mokusin however, has a bright pink stalk, arms nearly blood red, tips are fused to form a tapering spire, and the gleba is in the spaces between the arms, light to dark brown.”
A gift indeed, not to mention two inches of garden irrigation. Free. From the sky. For more on what mushrooms might be appearing in your garden after this weekend’s rains, do read this account of a 2010 tour of my former central LA garden with Nishida on the amazing, ephemeral fungi that are aroused, all too briefly, by our all too rare rains.