Ravenel’s Stinkhorn

(Phallus ravenelii)

Conservation Status
Ravenel’s Stinkhorn
Photo by Kirk Nelson
  IUCN Red List

not listed


not listed


not listed


Ravenel’s Stinkhorn is a common and widespread mushroom in gardens, lawns, meadows, cultivated areas, and woodlands of eastern North America. It is found from August through October, singly or in clusters, on the ground or on well rotted stumps, logs, wood chips, or sawdust. It is saprobic, obtaining its nutrients from decaying wood.

The fruiting body at first is white to pinkish, egg-shaped, up to 2 tall, and resembles a puffball at least partially submerged in the ground. It is attached to the ground or other substrate by thread-like, branching, similarly colored strands (mycelium). Inside the “egg” there is a gelatinous layer and a green spore mass (gleba), and all of the fully-formed parts of the mature stinkhorn. When conditions are right the “egg” ruptures and expands rapidly, sometimes in as little as one hour, producing a 4 to 6 tall, distinctly phallic structure with a stalk and thimble-like head. The rapid expansion is possible because all of the parts are fully formed and compressed inside the “egg”, and because the individual cells elongate, rather than new cells being produced. As the stinkhorn expands the gelatinous layer mixes with the spore mass producing a shiny, putrid slime that covers the cap. The foul-smelling slime is irresistible to flies, which feed on it, lay their eggs in it, and transfer spores when they fly to other stinkhorns.

The stalk is spike-like, hollow, spongy, fragile, 4 to 6 tall, and to 13 16 thick. It is usually entirely white but may be tinged yellowish or pinkish toward the base. At the base of the stalk the remnants of the ruptured “egg” (volva) is white, sometimes tinged with pink.

The cap is thimble-like, to 19 16 in diameter and 19 16 to 1¾ in height. There is a white, circular opening at the top where it attaches to the stalk. There are sometimes remnants of a membranous veil attached to the bottom of the cap. At first, the cap is covered with a thick, slimy or gluey, shiny, olive-brown to dark brown, spore-bearing mass (gleba). The gleba has a strong, putrid odor, repulsive to humans but irresistible to flies. When it is carried off by flies and/or washed off by rain it reveals a dark. granular, smooth or slightly wrinkled but not deeply pitted or ridged surface. There are no gills.

All stinkhorns are edible but the slimy consistency inside the “egg” and the putrid odor the mature specimen are enough to dissuade most from collecting it for the table.


Similar Species


Common Stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus) cap is deeply pitted and ridged (reticulate) beneath the slime.

Habitat and Hosts

Gardens, lawns, meadows, cultivated areas, and woodlands.




August through October


Distribution Map



4, 24, 26, 29, 30, 77.




Widespread; more common in eastern United States

  Kingdom Fungi (fungi)  
  Subkingdom Dikarya  
  Phylum Basidiomycota (club fungi)  
  Subphylum Agaricomycotina (jelly fungi, yeasts, and mushrooms)  
  Class Agaricomycetes (mushrooms, bracket fungi, puffballs, and allies)  
  Subclass Phallomycetidae  
  Order Phallales (stinkhorns and allies)  
  Family Phallaceae (stinkhorns)  
  Genus Phallus  



Aedycia ravenelii

Ithyphallus ravenelii


Common Names


Ravenel’s Stinkhorn











The inner spore-bearing mass of puffballs, earthstars, and stinkhorns. The term is also used to refer to the spore-bearing slime covering the head of a stinkhorn.



The vegetative part of a fungus; consisting of a mass of branching, thread-like hyphae, through which a fungus absorbs nutrients from its environment; and excluding the fruiting, reproductive structure.



A term often used for saprotrophic fungi. Referring to fungi that obtain their nutrients from decayed organic matter.



Also called cup. A cup-like covering at the base of a mushroom stem, sometimes buried. In Amanita, Volvariella, and some other mushrooms, it is the remnants of the universal veil ruptured by the mushroom pushing through. In Phallales it is the remnants of the ruptured peridium.

Visitor Photos

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William Tindell


I found a couple of these fungus in the woods by my home. Any idea what they are?

    Ravenel’s Stinkhorn      



Two eggs and two stinkhorns growing in garden mulch

    Ravenel’s Stinkhorn      


    Ravenel’s Stinkhorn   Ravenel’s Stinkhorn  
    Ravenel’s Stinkhorn      

Kirk Nelson

    Ravenel’s Stinkhorn      
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos








Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Phallus ravenelii, stinkhorn mushroom

Published on Jul 27, 2012

This is a 30 hour time lapse of a trio of autumnal stinkhorn mushrooms, Phallus ravenelii. Images were taken at 5 minute intervals.

  Stinkhorn Growth (Phallus Ravenelii)
Rob C.

Published on Oct 2, 2014

Phallus Ravenelii

351 Images over 4 hours

More info: http://goo.gl/5GruZ1

  Dictyophora duplicata and Phallus ravenelii, stinkhorn mushrooms

Published on Jul 27, 2012

This is a 3 day, 5 hour time lapse movie of the stinkhorn mushrooms Dictyophora duplicata (left) and Phallus ravenelii (right) growing and senescing. Towards the end of the movie, note the fly that is attracted to the fetid carrionlike odor of the stinkhorns. It'll pick up sticky spores on it's tarsi and spread them to new locales. Images were taken at 5 minute intervals.

The less-than-straight growth of the stickhorns is the results of digging them up from the mulch where they were growing to move them to the photo studio.




Visitor Sightings

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Location: Anoka County

Two eggs and two stinkhorns growing in garden mulch

Ravenel’s Stinkhorn  

Location: Maplewood, Ramsey County

Ravenel’s Stinkhorn  
2019 & 2020
late August/
early September

Location: St. Paul, MN

They have grown 2 years in the mulch around our house. I decided to identify it this year because the smell is unbelievable. 


Location: Walker, MN


  April Horne

Location: east of Rochester, Mn

  Kirk Nelson

Location: Lebanon Hills Regional Park

Ravenel’s Stinkhorn  
MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings






Created: 10/29/2016

Last Updated:

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