Clathrus archeri

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Clathrus archeri
Octopus stinkhorn (Clathrus archeri) with
suberumpent eggs
Scientific classification
C. archeri
Binomial name
Clathrus archeri
(Berk.) Dring 1980
  • Lysurus archeri Berk. (1859)
  • Anthurus archeri (Berk.) E.Fisch. (1886)
  • Aserophallus archeri (Berk.) Kuntze (1891)
  • Pseudocolus archeri (Berk.) Lloyd (1913)
  • Schizmaturus archeri (Berk.) Locq. (1977)
Clathrus archeri
View the Mycomorphbox template that generates the following list
Glebal hymenium
No distinct cap
Hymenium attachment is irregular or not applicable
Lacks a stipe
Spore print is olive-brown
Ecology is saprotrophic
Edibility is unknown

Clathrus archeri (synonyms Lysurus archeri, Anthurus archeri, Pseudocolus archeri), commonly known as octopus stinkhorn or devil's fingers,[2] is a fungus which has a global distribution. This species was first described in 1980 in a collection from Tasmania.[3] The young fungus erupts from a suberumpent egg by forming into four to seven elongated slender arms initially erect and attached at the top. The arms then unfold to reveal a pinkish-red interior covered with a dark-olive spore-containing gleba. In maturity it smells like putrid flesh.


Clathrus archeri grows in 2 distinct stages, first an egg stage followed by the fungal "arms" emerging. During the egg stage, C. archeri forms a white ball-like egg shape, usually 2–3 cm (341+18 in) in diameter.[4] Next, the thallus emerges from the egg in a starfish-like shape with 4-6 arms on average (up to 8).[4] Each arm can grow up to 10 cm (3+78 in) in length and is coated in gleba on the upper surface. Fruiting bodies produce a red-orange color due to the production of carotenoids. Fungal spores are oblong, smooth, and 3.5–6 x 1.5–2 µm in size.[4] As other members of the family Phallaceae, the strong putrid smell of the gleba shows convergent evolution with some angiosperm flowers called sapromyophilous flowers.[5]

In a laboratory setting, C. archeri was found to grow best in 26 °C (79 °F) on a compost agar (CA) medium with a pH of 6.0.[6] Under these conditions, the thallus grew an average of 2.9 mm (18 in) a day over 4 weeks and in a radial shape. C. archeri produces white and fluffy mycelium and eventually turns a pink color. Mycelia strands are 0.5–1.5 mm (164116 in) in diameter and branch in a tree-like manner. Fungal Hyphae create irregularly shaped vesicles that contain lipids. On the surface of the hyphae, calcium oxalate crystals are secreted. It is hypothesized that this outer layer of crystals creates a protective hydrophobic layer around the hyphae.[6] C. archeri forms unstable perforate septal pore caps; this may suggest that perforation formation in Phallomycetidae begins later in comparison to similar groups.[7]


Clathrus archeri produces compounds similar to the scent of rotting flesh. This compound production supports evidence of convergent evolution between fungi and angiosperms. This scent is used by the fungus to attract flies to serve as agents for spore dispersal.

Habitat and distribution[edit]

Clathrus archeri is commonly found in environments with abundant decaying organic matter. It is most common in leaf litter and mulch, in both woodlands and grasslands. Saprophytes prefer areas with high moisture or water, access to oxygen, neutral pH, and low-medium temperatures.

The species is believed to be endemic to southern Africa, New Zealand and Australia, but has been spreading to other continents and is often invasive.[5] Clathrus archeri now has a global distribution and has been naturalised in Europe and North America. It was first discovered in the UK over a century ago (~1914) and has spread across much of Europe. Clathrus archeri was likely introduced via wool fabric in supplies for WWI. As climate changes drive niche habitat loss, Clathrus archeri is expected to become threatened in Australia but is expected to expand to northeast Europe.[8] The expansion of Clathrus archeri in Europe is further supported by its invasion into 2 new Romanian sites in July 2013.[9] Furthermore, Clathrus archeri has been found in 90 sites in Poland as of 2013, 65% of which are located in forests.[10] Recent modeling studies in Poland expect the alien species to occur in areas with a thick layer of snow, which does not melt in winter, at higher altitudes, where the water deficit is low.[11]

Recently, C. archeri var. alba with white tentacles or arms has been reported from the Shola Forests in the Western Ghats, Kerala, India.[12]


Clathrus archeri grows best in environments rich in decaying vegetation. The fungus is a saprotroph. It is most commonly found in leaf litter or mulch below vegetation. The most abundant acid secreted by the fungus is oxalic acid, this acid binds to metal cations and increases the bioavailability of some minerals.[6] Fungal mycelium exhibits calcium pooling which changes soil pH and availability of phosphorus for surrounding flora.[6]


Due to the rotting stench of stinkhorns, there are no common culinary applications.


  1. ^ "GSD Species Synonymy: Clathrus archeri (Berk.) Dring". Species Fungorum. CAB International. Retrieved 2015-12-08.
  2. ^ Clathrus archeri (devil's fingers)
  3. ^ Dring, D. M. (1980). "Contributions towards a Rational Arrangement of the Clathraceae". Kew Bulletin. 35 (1): 1–ii. doi:10.2307/4117008. JSTOR 4117008.
  4. ^ a b c Arora, David; Burk, William R. (May 1982). "Clathrus Archeri , A Stinkhorn New to North America". Mycologia. 74 (3): 501–504. doi:10.1080/00275514.1982.12021535. ISSN 0027-5514.
  5. ^ a b Johnson, S.D.; Jürgens, A. (October 2010). "Convergent evolution of carrion and faecal scent mimicry in fly-pollinated angiosperm flowers and a stinkhorn fungus". South African Journal of Botany. 76 (4): 796–807. doi:10.1016/j.sajb.2010.07.012.
  6. ^ a b c d Mykchaylova, Oksana (January 2022). "Morphological Characteristics of the Culture Clathrus Archeri (Phallaceae, Basidiomycota)". Polish Journal of Natural Science. 36: 283–298 – via ResearchGate.
  7. ^ Hibbett, D. S.; Bauer, R.; Binder, M.; Giachini, A. J.; Hosaka, K.; Justo, A.; Larsson, E.; Larsson, K. H.; Lawrey, J. D. (2014), McLaughlin, David J.; Spatafora, Joseph W. (eds.), "14 Agaricomycetes", Systematics and Evolution, Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg, pp. 373–429, doi:10.1007/978-3-642-55318-9_14, ISBN 978-3-642-55317-2, retrieved 2022-05-07
  8. ^ Pietras, Marcin; Kolanowska, Marta; Selosse, Marc-André (2021-03-01). "Quo vadis? Historical distribution and impact of climate change on the worldwide distribution of the Australasian fungus Clathrus archeri (Phallales, Basidiomycota)". Mycological Progress. 20 (3): 299–311. doi:10.1007/s11557-021-01669-w. ISSN 1861-8952. S2CID 232378205.
  9. ^ Bîrsan, Ciprian; Cojocariu, Ana; Cenușă, Elena (2014-09-22). "Distribution and Ecology of Clathrus archeri in Romania". Notulae Scientia Biologicae. 6 (3): 288–291. doi:10.15835/nsb639389. ISSN 2067-3264.
  10. ^ Szczepkowski, Andrzej (April 2012). "Obce gatunki sromotnikowatych Phallaceae w lasach Polski". Studia i Materiały Centrum Edukacji Przyrodniczo-Leśnej. 33: 279–295 – via
  11. ^ Bîrsan, Ciprian; Mardari, Constantin; Copoţ, Ovidiu; Tănase, Cătălin (2021). "Modelling the potential distribution and habitat suitability of the alien fungus Clathrus archeri in Romania". Botanica Serbica. 45 (2): 241–250. doi:10.2298/BOTSERB2102241B. ISSN 1821-2158. S2CID 240201318.
  12. ^ Mohanan, C. (2011). Macrofungi of Kerala. Kerala, India.: Kerala Forest Research Institute. ISBN 978-81-85041-73-5.

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