Public Description of Phallus ravenelii Berk. & Curt.

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Name: Phallus ravenelii Berk. & Curt.
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 Draft For 2008/2009 Eol University Species Pages Initiative By Jered (Private)
 Draft For Wild Mushrooms Of The Northeastern United States By Erlon (Private)

Description status: Unreviewed

Taxonomic Classification:

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

General Description:

Found on decaying wood or around sawdust piles, Phallus ravenelii develops from a pinkish-lilac colored egg-like structure that resembles a small puffball. The egg often has branched rhizomorphs, is gelatinous in the center, and gives rise to a distinct head and stalk. The remains of the egg can be found at the base of the stalk as a volva. The stalk is white to cream colored, spongy, honeycombed, and hollow. The conic head is wrinkled with a dishrag-like appearance. The head has a white apical disc with a mouth like opening. The wrinkled or granular surface eventually perforates to release an olive-green slimy spore mass. This slimy mass emits a putrid odor for which stinkhorns are known for. The smell attracts insects. The spores stick to the insects and are dispersed in this manner.

Diagnostic Description:

The pinkish-lilac egg is 3.5-6 cm high and 3-4.5 cm wide. The fruiting body has a volva, a white stalk that is 10-16 cm long and 1.5-3 cm wide with a head that is 3-4.5 cm long and 1.5-4 cm wide. The mushrooms are found solitary to scattered or clustered. Within the slimy mass there are green tinted, cylindric, smooth, hyaline spores that are 3-4 × 1-1.5 um in size.


Phallus ravenelii is found east of the Rocky Mountains as far north as Quebec and as far south as Florida. It is expected to grow wherever decaying logs, stumps, woody debris or wood chips are found. It fruits from August-October and is relatively common.


Ravenel’s stinkhorn has been found around sawdust piles, near decaying wood in the forest and places where mulch is used like flower beds.

Look Alikes:

Phallus impudicus is very similar, but the pileus is deeply pitted like a morel. The similar Dictyophora duplicata also has a pitted pileus but also has a netted “skirt” called an indusium.

See Tom Volk’s page on stinkhorns.

Mutinus caninus, the dog stinkhorn, looks very similar to Phallus ravenelii. The dog stinkhorn, however, lacks a head and has pink tones throughout its’ stalk. The spores are larger also larger, 3.5-5 × 1.5-2 um.

See Tom Volk’s page on dog stinkhorns


There are not many uses for Phallus ravenelii. Although it is not poisonous, the horrible smell is a turn off and most people will not eat it. However, the eggs are considered a delicacy in some parts of the world.

It is also important as a decomposer.


Bessette, Alan E., Arleen R. Bessette, and David W. Fischer. Mushrooms of Northeastern North America. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse UP, 1997. 377.

Huffman, D. M., L. H. Tiffany, and G. Knaphus. Mushrooms & Other Fungie of the Midcontinental United States. Ames, Iowa: Iowa State UP, 1989.

Smith, Alexander H. The Mushroom Hunter’s Field Guide. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Michigan UP, 1980.


Phallus ravenelii Berk. & M.A. Curtis, Grevillea 11(no. 57): 33 (1882)

Citations in published lists or literature:
Saccardo’s Syll. fung. VII: 8, 11; XV: 279

Description authors: Tom Volk, jered (Request Authorship Credit)
Description editors: Nathan Wilson, walt sturgeon

Created: 2008-12-25 17:05:50 PST (-0800) by Tom Volk (TomVolk)
Last modified: 2011-12-02 21:15:37 PST (-0800) by walt sturgeon (Mycowalt)
Viewed: 530 times, last viewed: 2019-02-05 16:52:33 PST (-0800)