A strange, alien-like fungus that smells like “rotting flesh” has baffled Reddit users after a hiker discovered it while on a mountain near Brisbane. User Aus556762 was in Mount Nebo in the West Moreton region when he stumbled across the red specimen before taking it to the online forum.
Reddit users were quick to comment, saying it looked “like something out of Resident Evil” or belonged “in the Upside Down” (a reference to the Netflix show Stranger Things). But, some helpful users told the original poster it was a stinkhorn, better known by the scientific name Aseroe Rubra. The anemone fungi pop up during Brisbane’s wet winters following rain and humidity.
According to the Queensland Museum, the starfish-looking fungi begin as “egg-like structures” partly buried beneath the soil of parks, gardens, and bushlands and form stalk up to 10cm high with up to 10 red arms.
“Stinkhorns are certainly well named. Unlike many flowers that produce fragrant aromas and sweet nectar rewards to lure pollinating insects, stinkhorns emit the foul odor of feces or rotting flesh,” the Queensland Museum said.
“It is doubtful that any sensible person would seriously consider eating one of these smelly fungi, and there are no known cases of human consumption. “However, deaths of small dogs are recorded, and the fungi are believed to contain irritant toxins.”
The stinkhorn is categorized as toxic category two by Queensland Health, which urges anyone who ingests the fungus to seek urgent medical attention.