Phallus Mushroom Found in Lam Dong, Vietnam

It’s always a good day when you find another Phallus.

There are 28 species of Phallus mushroom and this one, Phallus drewesii, was recently discovered for the first time in Asia by scientists from Vietnam’s Southern Institute of Ecology and reported in the journal Mycosphere.

Photo of a phallus-shaped mushroom in Vietnam.
P. drewesii has been discovered in Vietnam for the first time. Photograph courtesy Nguyen Ngoc Hung

The two-inch-long (five-centimeter-long) species of stinkhorn fungus was first found on the isolated island country of Sâo Tomé and Príncipe off West Africa in 2009.

The team found the new little guys on a field expedition in Bidoup Núi Ba, a Vietnamese national park in the province of Lam Dong. Almost completely forested, the park boasts about 2,000 plant species.

P. drewesii has a shape that mirrors its genus name, but it’s distinguished from other Phallus mushrooms by a number of things.

For one, the mushroom has a patterned white stem, is diminutive in size, and is the only Phallus that both curves downward and has a brown, spore-covered head.

They also, like all stinkhorn mushrooms, give off  a foul stench usually described as rotting meat, which attracts flies that eat and distribute their spores through the forests. Once the small, brown egg is deposited on a piece of wood, it pops up into a mushroom in about four hours.

P. drewesii may be small, droopy, and malodorous, but its namesake doesn’t seem to mind. Discoverers Dennis Desjardin and Brian Perry of San Francisco State University named the fungus after Robert Drewes, curator of herpetology at the California Academy of Sciences, who thought it was “a wonderful honor and great fun to have this phallus-shaped fungus named after me.”

And it’s not the only time a species has been named after him. Drewes’ moniker also graces Arthroelptella drewesii, a frog from South Africa, and Leptotyphlops drewesi, a Kenyan blind worm snake.

Don’t even say it.

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Liz Langley is the award-winning author of Crazy Little Thing: Why Love and Sex Drive Us Mad and has written for many publications including Salon, Details and the Huffington Post. Follow her on Twitter @LizLangley and at www.lizlangley.com