Devilish goings on in the Essex woods

It’s been a remarkable summer for mushrooms in the UK with rare and strange mushrooms popping up all over. I came across one today that I thought I would have to travel to the far south west to see. It’s a mushroom from the other side of the world, Australia and the Pacific, growing wild in the woods of north Essex.

Devil’s Fingers, Clathrus archeri
Devil’s Fingers, Clathrus archeri

It is called the Devil’s Fingers. Five blood red curving arms erupt from a small egg of jelly. The black gobbets are the spores waiting to attract flies to carry them off. The egg is quite small, about the size of a cherry.

Devil’s Fingers egg

Devil’s Fingers are loosely related to our native Stinkhorn Fungus, which also grows from a jelly egg.

Stinkhorn, Phallus impudicus

Like the stinkhorn, devil’s fingers mimics the smell of rotting meat which attracts the flies which disperse it’s spores.

collapsed Devil’s Fingers
Devil’s Fingers erupting from it’s egg