Imagine walking into your yard and there it is. You see an egg. But not just any ordinary egg a bird might have left behind. No, this egg looks like it fell straight from outer space into your yard. What’s worse, the egg begins to crack and something like the arms of an octopus begin to emerge. Devil’s fingers!
The sheer sight of this creepy slime-covered life-form makes you aware that Mother Nature has quite a scary side. And most of us don’t even know about it, which makes it so much scarier. So, what are we dealing with here?
Lucky for us, one woman stumbled across the Devil’s fingers in her own yard and knew what she was witnessing. Instead of freaking out and running for the hills, she started recording and posted this time laps video which you can watch below.
What are Devil’s fingers?
It happens to be a quite common fungus and grows around the world. The scientific name is Clathrus archeri, but most of us know it by the name of octopus stinkhorn or devil’s fingers. As with many fungi, this one is edible, but only if you can shut off your taste buds and clamp your nose.
This mushroom spends most of its time underground where it finds nourishment in pieces of wood. The horror only emerges when it is time to reproduce.
The “egg” grows from out of the ground. It is still unbroken at this stage and typically measures about 2 to 3 cm in diameter. Just big enough for you to notice. The outer layer looks a bit like a leathery egg sac. Almost like the egg of a bird that didn’t eat enough calcium to form a proper shell all the way around. Inside of it, you can see the monster lurking. And if you think this is weird, take a look at the weirdest natural events that are happening on this planet.
The second stage shows the shell opening up like a flower, because the Devil’s fingers have started to outgrow it. You can already see that it is ready to bust the sac open and show its entire creepiness.
Then, it happens. What emerges from the egg are octopus-like tentacles. The arms emerge vertically and are of a pinkish-red color. Which is most likely were the name Devil’s fingers comes from. The inside of the arms are covered with a dark, sticky coating, which is called gleba. This gleba contains the spores.
Once the fruit body has fully emerged, the tentacles spread out. At this stage the mushroom looks more like an octopus, and its stinky odor reveals the reason behind the name Octopus stinkhorn. At this stage, the mushroom is fully mature and ready for its spores to be spread. To achieve this its stench, which is said to resemble decaying flesh, attracts flies, because flies just love stinky stuff. Once the flies land on the gleba, the spores stick to their legs. And as they fly off to find more stinky stuff, they take the spores with them to leave them behind wherever their little feet might land. And so another life cycle begins.
As I mentioned before, this fungus is edible, but you should only eat it in extreme survival situations. And if so, only eat the egg stage. It is said to smell and taste like radish. It really has not been studied yet what would happen if you consume too much or the wrong parts of it. If I was you,… don’t even try. But, let’s take a look at this awesome video and be amazed.
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