3 September 2021
Seven of us retired ladies went birding yesterday morning at Moraine State Park. After a flurry of warblers we found this pink fleshy thing on the ground, the size an index finger.
As we tried to identify it someone suggested a fungus called devil’s fingers. Linda uploaded a photo to iNaturalist and the answer came back right away: the devil’s dipstick.
Umm, yah. “Small devil.” We dissolved in laughter.
After we’d wiped the laughing tears from our eyes we googled for more.
As the egg-shaped fruiting body matures it ruptures and the spongy spore-bearing stalk emerges; fully grown, it may be from 0.4 to 5.9 inches long and 0.6 to 0.8 inches thick. The stalk is hollow and strongly wrinkled overall; its shape is cylindrical below, but it gradually tapers to a narrow apex with a small opening at the tip.— Wikipedia account: Mutinus elegans
The one we found was an old specimen. When new, the stalk stands up and the upper third is coated with a stinky greenish-brown spore-containing slime that attracts flies to bear away the spores. Here’s a newer specimen, photographed in Florida.
The devil’s what?!
p.s. At least one of the ladies in our group is not retired but she is a grandmother so I invoked my poetic license to describe us.
(top photo by Kate St. John, second photo from Wikimedia Commons; click on the caption to see the original)