What on earth is this alien-like fungi?

A PUTRID smelling and alien-like fungi popping up around the Gold Coast has pet owners on high alert as the red coloured mushroom is highly toxic to animals, pets and even small children.

The Stinkhorn Fungus, which comes in a lattice like sphere, or a forked starfish shape, produces a dark brown to black slime containing spores on their surface, which has an intense smell of rotting meat or sewage.

While cases of human consumption are not known, the smell is attractive to dogs who could confuse the pungent plant for meaty food.

No it’s not an alien. It is a variety of Stinkhorn Fungi which smells like rotting meat and is poisonous to pets.
No it’s not an alien. It is a variety of Stinkhorn Fungi which smells like rotting meat and is poisonous to pets.

Claire Flemming from the Gold Coast Vet Surgery in Surfers Paradise, said while they had not had any animal patients who had consumed the mushroom, it could pose a risk to curious canines and could be very toxic.

"The mushroom is a gastric irritant that would cause vomiting and diarrhoea and toxicity would depend on the size of the pet and how much they have eaten," she said.

"We would recommend anybody to contact their vet immediately if they do suspect their pet may have eaten the mushroom as treatment would include inducing vomiting to prevent any toxicity."

Senior botanist and fungi expert from the Queensland Herbarium, Nigel Fechner, said the lattice sphere shaped variety found in the northern Gold Coast was very uncommon and could pop up in fresh mulch or compost.

The spherical lattice shaped fungi is a rare type of Stinkhorn.
The spherical lattice shaped fungi is a rare type of Stinkhorn.

"The foul stench would likely deter children from consuming the mushroom but some dogs are attracted to it," he said.

"The black or brown spore mass ooze smells like rotting meat to attract flies who dance all around it and get it on their feet to spread the spores.

"Thankfully, we haven't had any cases of children eating it, but it would be expected to be quite dangerous if that were to happen."

A Queensland health document states Stinkhorn Fungi carries a category two toxicity level which means it could potentially be toxic to small children, depending on the level of exposure and should not be grown in preschools, playgrounds or home with small children.



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