I was so enthralled by the discovery of these Stinkhorn Fungus at the Auckland Domain yesterday shooting the sad flowers of winter, I returned today with my tripod and macro lens – though they are not really macro subjects averaging 10-12 cm high (4-5″) and when fully extended 25-30cm across (12″). But the macro lens goes to f32 (I’m using the Tamron 90mm) which is much better for close ups than the usual f22.
Spending a couple of hours shooting these, I was a bit overwhelmed by their stink – a bit like a fishkill on a hot summer day – heavy and very rank… You would think that a patch of bush between the cafe and toilet block that was overrun with giant red fungus would get some attention, but my fell ow humans continue to dismay me – even when I pointed it out to them, most people looked and dully and moved on, including a boy of about 7 who shrugged his shoulders and ran off. Fortunately I was able to get a couple of folks excited enough to snap a few shots of their own.
The skinny on the Stinkhorn Fungus for the mushroom geeks: The fruiting body of a stinkhorn fungus emerges from the ground as an egg-like structure. It then splits open, revealing a stalk with a number of coloured arms. This species, Anthurus archeri, is growing in a clump of moss in native forest. Stinkhorn fungi produce a smelly mucus mass full of spores at the base of their arms. Flies feed on the stinking mucus and in so doing help to spread the spores.