Get your minds out of the gutter, folks – I’m talking about the fabulous stinkhorn fungus, Phallus rubicundus. Several have popped up in the garden lately, but this one is the most spectacular.
The gucky, slimy brown substance on the right is what’s left of the spore-bearing head (compare with the better photos at the Australian Fungi blog). The reference books describe it as ‘foetid’, but this one wasn’t smelly, perhaps because it’s breaking up. The smell attracts insects, which distribute the spores.
The fruiting body (stalk) comes from a puffball, like the one still in the ground on the left.
Fuhrer’s A Field Guide to Australian Fungi says:
Usually found on organic humus and decaying wood debris in tropical and subtropical habitats.
It has a wordwide distribution. Nice one, Nature!