Smelly discovery in woman's backyard 'creeps out' Aussies

'It wasn't smelly early this morning when I found it, but sure does stink like fresh dog poo now.'

A bizarre flesh-like growth found in a woman’s backyard has left some Aussies stunned, and others just ‘creeped out’.

The Queensland resident made the “awesome” find in the grass at her Gladstone home on Wednesday and snapped several pictures of the pink and brown object, which is curled over at the top and features a white spot on the head.

Hoping to sate her curiosity, the woman asked a group of experts to help confirm her suspicions.

The pink and brown flesh-like Lantern Stinkhorn.
A Queensland woman was stunned when she stumbled across a Lantern Stinkhorn in her backyard. Source: Facebook

“From my understanding it’s a Lantern Stinkhorn,” she wrote on a Facebook group dedicated to identifying fungus. “I’ve never seen one in person yet so it was very cool to find it in my lawn this morning.”

As well as its unusual appearance, the “super shocked” woman revealed it had a less than favourable odour. “It wasn’t smelly early this morning when I found it, but sure does stink like fresh dog poo now,” the fungi admirer added.

Some members described the woman’s discovery as “so cool”, while another simply declared: “These creep me out.”

What is a Lantern Stinkhorn?

The Queensland woman’s new yard ornament is indeed a Lantern Stinkhorn (lysurus Mokusin) — otherwise known as the small lizard’s claw, or the ribbed lizard claw fungus — Professor Brett Summerell, chief scientist at the Botanic Gardens of Sydney, told Yahoo News Australia.

The white gleba on the head of the bizarre fungus.
The fungus attracts flies to help spread its spores. Source: Facebook

“The fungus is originally native to Asia, but is also found in Australia, Europe and North America, where it is probably an introduced species,” he said.

“Flies are attracted to the brown patches on the lantern stinkhorn fungus by its strong unpleasant scent – the flies pick up the sticky spores and transport them around the environment where they might germinate and establish a colony.”

'Keep dogs away just in case'

Professor in Microbiology at the University of Sydney, Dee Carter, told Yahoo like their name suggests, the stinkhorn’s give off a bad smell to attract flies, which they use to help spread their spores. “When mature they ooze a nasty-looking brown substance that will stick to the fly’s feet,” she explained, adding that they live off dead matter, especially decaying wood.

“They grow very quickly and you may find that they are ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ as they can pop up overnight but will also collapse and decay quickly.”

Professor Carter said Lantern Stinkhorns are often brought into gardens by wood mulch and although “they look scary”, they aren’t poisonous and don’t harm plants. “In fact they can be beneficial in their role as nutrient recyclers, but I’d keep my dogs away from them just in case,” she said.

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