Stink Horn Mushroom
(Photo courtesy of Silas K. Aqui)
Aliens already inhabit our planet.
While taking care of his chores the other day, my brother, Charlie, came across one of these extraterrestrials. I want to share with you his own words...
I was taking out the trash and looked down below the hedges and spotted this mushroom. At first, I thought it was a kid's toy and then looked closer and realized it was a live mushroom. I live next to the wettest spot in the world, Mt. Wai'ale'ale, on the Garden Island of Kauai. This is the second time I've seen this mushroom. As you can see, the stem is a bright orange, and the cap looks like creamy chocolate.
--Silas Kaumakahia Aqui (aka Charlie)
A small army of ants had already been dispatched by their queen to forage this unusual mushroom. The alluring colors and sticky, stink to humans but aromatic to insects, chocolate-colored cap attracted our six-footed miniature friends. (If you look closely at the picture or have the ability to zoom in for a close-up, you can see the ants clustered just below the brown cap.)
Indeed, the very action of ants or other living organisms traipsing around in the gooey substance ensures the proliferation of this unusual mushroom. Spores become attached to the insects because of the slime and are thus rapidly and effectively spread to other areas.
Charlie wasted no time in attempting to identify this new arrival in the yard. He emailed the mycologists (mushroom experts) at mushroompatch.com and asked them for help in identifying the stranger.
It took the experts four days to respond, but they actually were able to identify the subject.
The mushroom is called a Stink Horn. The link below will take you to an article with great information about this uncommon mushroom.
My brother's sharp eye and follow-up made for another fun-to-write post. It certainly got me thinking about the possibility someday--another of my bucket list agenda--of hiking around in the Olympic Forest of Washington state and looking for mushrooms.