Public Description of Clathrus ruber P. Micheli ex Pers.

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Name: Clathrus ruber P. Micheli ex Pers.
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 Draft For 2008/2009 Eol University Species Pages Initiative By Jordan Zachritz (Private)

Description status: Reviewed
 (Latest review: 2010-04-14 20:55:10 CDT (-0500) by nathan)

Taxonomic Classification:

Domain: Eukarya
Kingdom: Fungi
Phylum: Basidiomycota
Class: Agaricomycetes
Order: Phallales
Family: Phallaceae

General Description:

Clathrus ruber, a cage fungus, is a close relative of the stinkhorns. It, like the stinkhorns, starts as an ‘egg’ with a “white bumpy surface”. It expands into a beautiful “bright reddish-orange or pink, hollow, fragile lattice-work structure”2. It grows singly, scattered or gregariously. It’s odor resembles that of a dead rodent. The purpose has been conjectured that it’s odor attracts flies which then land and investigate the fruiting structure . When the flies depart, they take spores with them, dispersing them to the next mulch heap.

See observations 13861 and 7065 emerging egg.
See observation 13208 and 3157 fruit body and eggs.
See observation 6136 fruit body.

Diagnostic Description:

Fruiting body 4-7 cm broad , rounded to pulvinate; peridium thin, white, irregularly bumpy over an inner gelatinous layer; fruiting body expanding and rupturing to reveal a pale orange to reddish-orange, hollow, fragile, lattice-work structure, the inner surface lined with a sticky, fetid-odored gleba; rhizomorphs (thickened mycelium) are characteristically found at the base of fruiting bodies2.
Spores 4.5-5.5 × 2-2.5 µm, olive brown, oblong, smooth2.


C. ruber occurs throughout the world4 including Britain3, Europe, Asia and North America.

Clathrus ruber is one of a number of fungi, e.g. Psathyrella species, Hypholoma aurantiaca, Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca, which are becoming more common in the S.F. Bay Area the result of the trend of parks to grind up fallen trees into chips used for mulch in flower beds”2.


As many of the members of the Phallales, Clathrus grows in wood chips, mulch, and occasionally in grass and disturbed ground; restricted to watered, urban habitats and probably an introduced species; fruiting during the warmer months of the year2. It feeds on cellulosic material.


Fly attractant. Decomposer.


1 National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).

2 California Fungi: Clathrus ruber

Calonge, Francisco D. (1998). Flora Mycologica Iberica. Vol. 3. Gasteromycetes, I. Lycoperdales, Nidulariales, Phallales, Sclerodermatales, Tulostomatales. J. Cramer: Berlin, Germany. 271 p.

Dring, D. M. (1980). Contributions towards a rational arangement of the Clathraceae. Royal Botanic Gardens: Kew, Surrey, England. 96 p.

Pegler, D. N., Læssøe, T. & Spooner, B. M. (1995). British Puffballs, Earthstars, and Stinkhorns. Royal Botanic Gardens: Kew, England. 255 p.

3 Cage Fungus – Clathrus ruber.

4 Breitenback J., Kränzlin F. (1986). Fungi of Switzerland, Volume 2. Verlag Mykologia, Lucerne, Switzerland. 398 p.

5 Borror, D.J. 1971. Dictionary of word roots and combining forms. Compiled from the Greek, Latin, and other languages, with special reference to biological terms and scientific names. Palo Alto, California.


Clathr: (L) a lattice
ruber: (L) red, reddish

Micheli’s names are not modern binomial names. Also, his work was published before the starting date for botanical naming. His name was validated by Persoon in 1801.

Description author: Jordan Zachritz (Request Authorship Credit)
Description editors: Administrator, Nathan Wilson, R. E. Tulloss