Aseroe rubra – Anemone Stinkhorn or Red Starfish
Aseroe rubra is indigenous and was in fact the first species of fungus to be recorded in Australia in the 1792. Perhaps not the most beautiful of fungi, this star-shaped member of the Stinkhorn family emerges from an egg-shaped case and disperses its spores via a olive brown/black slime that is spread on the arms or in blobs and smells strongly of rotting meat or worse! This is very attractive to insects who walk away with some of the tiny spores on their feet. It’s base is a fleshy pink tube up to 80mm high which is often submerged. 6 to 10 ‘arms’ spread to 150mm.
Aseroe rubra habitat is deep forest litter, compost or wood-chip mulch. At the Park several of this species can be seen in mulch between the centre bed and the saltwater lake. It’s toxic so keep your pet dog well away!
Clathrus ruber occurs on decaying woody plant material. Although considered primarily a European species, it now has a wide distribution that includes northern Africa, Asia, Australia, and North and South America.
It first appears as a whitish “egg” attached to the ground at the base by rhizomorphs. The egg has a delicate, leathery outer membrane enclosing the compressed lattice that surrounds a layer of olive-green spore-bearing slime called the gleba, which contains high levels of calcium that help protect the developing fruit body during development. As the egg ruptures and the fruit body expands, the gleba is carried upward on the inner surfaces of the spongy lattice, and the egg membrane remains as a volva around the base of the structure. This fruiting body is around 120mm wide. The species can range in colour from pink to orange to red. The gleba has a fetid odour, like rotting meat, which attracts flies and other insects to help disperse its spores.
Calthrus ruber appears in sheltered locations in several parts of the Park for long periods, particularly at the northern end of Centre Bed.
Ileodictyon gracile – Smooth Cage
First seen in the Park in July 2016, Ileodictyon gracile is a cage structure about 150mm in diameter that, like Clathrus rubber, emerges from an egg shape. Fully erect it becomes free, sometimes rolling along the ground. Its spore mass (visible in the bottom photo) is in a sticky substance that smells a bit like sour milk and no doubt attractive to insects that will help in spore dispersal. It occurs primarily in southern hemisphere countries.
This time lapse animation by Ian Bell shows both Aseroe rubra and Clathrus rubber emerging from their ‘egg-like’ cases: