Observation 3665: Lysurus periphragmoides (Klotzsch) Dring
When: 2007-06-16
No herbarium specimen

Notes: This Lysurus periphragmoides was seen in Portales, New Mexico, US, located in the dry, grassy plains of the eastern area of the state at about 4000 feet altitude (1220 meters). It produced an intense smell of rotting flesh which attracted many flies that sucked up the spore-laden thick brown liquid produced in the cap of the fungus. It rose from the earth around sunrise and collapsed and dried by mid-afternoon in the direct sun.

I’ve seen this stinkhorn just twice in the 18 years I have lived in this town. In both cases, it was after an unusual period of 4-5 days of very moist weather. Normally the humidity is extremely low in these sandy high plains of grass that is dry most of the time, springing to green life within hours after a rain and then drying to brown again within days. But occasionally we’ll have a weather pattern that produces more than a quick rain or downpour, and instead it may rain then be misty and cool for a day, then drizzle or rain again, then continue to stay moist or rainy/drizzly/misty for perhaps another 1-3 days. Each time it has been during one of these rare moist periods that the stinkhorn has appeared.

The first time, my neighbor asked me what the weird-looking mushroom was in his yard. By the time he mentioned it and I saw it, it had already mostly dried up, but I found the colors striking and the plant very interesting and asked him if he ever saw one again, to please let me know so that I could take photos and try to identify it.

About 2 years passed before he noticed another one and phoned me. That’s when I took the photos, in June, 2007.

Then I began to do research on the Internet knowing nothing about the plant. I used various identification tools and finally, after a lot of false leads and blind alleys, discovered that it was probably a Lysurus periphragmoides.

Species Lists


Copyright © 2007 Steve Doonan
This Lysurus periphragmoides (member of the “stinkhorn” family of fungi) was sighted in a neighbor’s yard in eastern New Mexico after about a week of rainy weather (unusual for this dry grassland prairie). Photographed with an Olympus E-510 digital SLR camera, Zuiko Digital 14-54m...
Flies quickly located the Lysurus (its odor like rotting flesh was fairly intense) and began to suck the viscous brown fluid from inside the cap.
Flies and other insects covered the Lysurus periphragmoides until it dried up in mid-afternoon, exposed to direct summer sun and the characteristic low humidity of the region of eastern New Mexico, US.

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Add Comment
Used in Wikipedia article…
By: Robert Sasata (Sasata)
2009-01-29 15:15:38 PST (-0800)

at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lysurus_periphragmoides
Thanks for uploading the cool pics!

Beautiful shots…
By: Debbie Viess (amanitarita)
2009-01-27 07:37:41 PST (-0800)

those are some kinda happy flies…

By: Danny Newman (myxomop)
2009-01-26 21:02:21 PST (-0800)

Stinkhorns in New Mexico. Never would have guessed. Outstanding find.

Created: 2007-06-18 13:26:18 PDT (-0700)
Last modified: 2007-06-18 13:26:18 PDT (-0700)
Viewed: 491 times, last viewed: 2016-10-26 09:53:39 PDT (-0700)