AT FIRST I thought that this ‘Witch’s Egg’ was an extra large earthball fungus. It about half the size of a tennis ball and not as firm to the touch as an earthball. It was on its own, lying on a shady, moist woodland bank amongst the leaf litter in Stoneycliffe Wood. This seemed strange as most fungi grow up from the ground rather than on it and I thought that perhaps it had been dislodged.
But this ‘fruiting’ part of the fungus has only a single white cord connecting it with the mycelium, the growing part of the fungus which is associated with rotting wood.
The ‘Witch’s Egg’ is said to be edible but poor but this is certainly one that I wouldn’t have tried, even when I was down and out and living in a tent in Iceland, as it’s filled with olive-green slime. It’s the initial stage of the Stinkhorn fungus, Phallus impudicus, which grows up from it, wafting its carrion odour through the wood.
Buczacki comments that ‘it is usually detected by its evil smell‘, which he find ‘repulsive‘.