Aroused by rain

Posted on | March 27, 2012 | 4 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.



4 Responses to “Aroused by rain”

  1. Janis Hatlestad
    March 27th, 2012 @ 9:51 pm

    Emily, something similar appeared in my garden last winter after I planted a palo verde tree in quite a disturbed location. Was very worried all the winter rain would prove too much for a desert tree. When fungus popped up in several places, my gut wrenched. Tree is doing fine so far. Keeping fingers crossed.

    Yay for rain! Cheers!

  2. Jessica
    March 28th, 2012 @ 11:07 am

    I had one of those (with a much more um, phallic tip) that popped up the morning after a first date with someone!

    (must have also been during our rainy season, but I found the other correlation more amusing)

  3. EmilyGreen
    March 28th, 2012 @ 11:16 am

    If you stare at the tip long enough, you start seeing a shaggy dog-like face, fit for a fairy tale. I’m super interested in what the various fungi are doing in land that was unpaved a year ago and covered with composted horse manure (hence, I suspect, our friend). The idea was to build soil structure in almost pure San Gabriel DG to hold water. Who knew about the theatre?

  4. Ken Beauchene
    January 17th, 2017 @ 7:00 pm

    Just stumbled upon this Wonderful Site while checking on Florence Nishida’s latest doings. Was hiking after these seasonal rains, last Tuesday and noticed how the mushrooms were popping up in Sullivan Canyon.

    Florence used to lead a ‘Collecting Hike’ for the upcoming Drought kept her from doing it for the last few years, but was wondering if she could be talked into doing one on Feb 11th.

    Love the Arousal created by these posts and the nocturnal L. borealis. Think the Phallus anthonyweinerii won the linguistic event for me. LOL Enjoy the rain, and if anyone wants to hike let me know….

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