Lysurus mokusin

Lysurus mokusin
Lysurus mokusin.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Fungi
Division: Basidiomycota
Class: Agaricomycetes
Order: Phallales
Family: Phallaceae
Genus: Lysurus
L. mokusin
Binomial name
Lysurus mokusin
Species synonymy
  • 1899 Lysurus beauvaisii Molliard
  • 1906 Mutinus pentagonus var. hardyi F.M. Bailey
  • 1907 Mutinus pentagonus F.M. Bailey
  • 1913 Mutinus hardyi (F.M. Bailey) F.M. Bailey
  • 1917 Lysurus sinensis Lloyd
  • 1933 Colus pentagonus (F.M. Bailey) Sawada
  • 1935 Lloydia quadrangularis C.H. Chow
  • 1935 Lysurus kawamurensis Liou & Y.C. Wang
  • 1936 Sinolloydia quadrangularis (C.H. Chow) C.H. Chow
  • 1936 Sinolloydia sinensis (Lloyd) C.H. Chow
  • 1938 Lysurus mokusin f. sinensis (Lloyd) Kobayasi
  • 2000 Lysurus mokusin var. sinensis (Lloyd) X.L. Mao
Lysurus mokusin
View the Mycomorphbox template that generates the following list
smooth hymenium
hymenium attachment is irregular or not applicable
stipe is bare
spore print is olive-brown
ecology is saprotrophic
edibility: not recommended

Lysurus mokusin, commonly known as the lantern stinkhorn, the small lizard's claw, or the ribbed lizard claw, is a saprobic species of fungus in the family Phallaceae. The fruit body consists of a reddish, cylindrical fluted stipe that is capped with several "arms". The arms can approach or even close in on each other to form a spire. The gleba—an olive-green slimy spore mass—is carried on the outer surface of the arms. The fruit body, which has an odor comparable to "fresh dog feces", "rotting flesh", or "sewage" when mature, is edible in its immature "egg" stage. The fungus is native to Asia, and is also found in Australia, Europe and North America, where it is probably an introduced species. It has been used medicinally in China as an ulcer remedy.

History, taxonomy, and phylogenyEdit

The species was first described by the Catholic Priest and missionary Pierre-Martial Cibot in the publication Novi Commentarii Academiae Scientiarum Imperialis Petropolitanae (New memoirs of the Imperial Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg) (1775), where he reported finding it near Peking (now Beijing).[2] This finding represents the earliest published scientific record of a fungus from China.[3] Cibot's original name for the lantern stinkhorn, Phallus mokusin, was sanctioned by Christian Hendrik Persoon in his 1801 Synopsis Methodica Fungorum.[4] In 1823, Elias Magnus Fries transferred it to the genus Lysurus in his Systema Mycologicum.[5] L. mokusin is the type species of the genus Lysurus.[6]

Flies are attracted to the lantern stinkhorn fungus by its strong scent

In 1938, Y. Kobayasi reported the form L. mokusin f. sinensis, which he said differed from the main species in having a head that was more angular and conical at the top;[7] the form sinensis was also reported in Korea in 1995.[8] Some authors have attempted to define forms of L. mokusin as new species based on the degree of separation of the apical arms. For example, to contrast with his concept of Lysurus in which the arms were either free or slightly fused, the genus Lloydia was created by Chow in 1935 to contain species in which the tips of the arms were fused. As a result of various differing interpretations of the limits of L. mokusin, and the desire of some authors to define new species based on perceived differences, the fungus has acquired a lengthy list of synonyms over the years.[1]

L. mokusin is commonly known as the "lantern stinkhorn", the "small lizard's claw",[9] or the "ribbed lizard claw".[10]

Lysuris mokusin has been included in a large-scale phylogenetic analysis of Gomphoid and Phalloid fungi published in 2006, and was shown to form a clade with Simblum sphaerocephalum, Lysurus borealis, and Protubera clathroidea.[11]


Close-up of fruit body tip, showing separation of the "arms"

Immature fruit bodies of L. mokusin are white, gelatinous "eggs" measuring 1–3 cm (0.4–1.2 in) in diameter, and are attached to the ground by thickened strands of mycelium called rhizomorphs. As the fungus matures, the egg ruptures as the fruit body rapidly expands, leaving volval remnants behind at the base. The stipe of the hollow, spongy mature fruiting body has dimensions of 10–15 cm (3.9–5.9 in) by 1.5–2.5 cm (0.6–1.0 in), and ranges in color from white to pink to red, with 4–6 distinct deeply grooved sides divided lengthwise by ribs. The basis of distinction between L. mokusin and other species of Lysurus is the angular form of its stipe.[12] The sides branch out into 4–6 arms that are fused together at the tip to form a pointed apex, resembling a spire. As the mushroom matures, the arms may spread apart. The outer surface of the arms is coated by a brownish, slimy, foul-smelling spore mass called the gleba; its fetid odor helps it attract flies and other insects to assist in spore dispersal. The odor has been compared to "fresh dog feces",[13] "rotting flesh"[14] or sewage.[15]

The spores are cylindrical in shape, smooth, thin-walled, and hyaline (translucent), with dimensions of 4–6 by 2–2.5 µm.[15] Scanning electron microscopy reveals that one end of the spores has a hilar scar—an indentation in the spore wall that results during its separation from the sterigma of the basidium.[16] The basidia (spore-bearing cells) are usually eight-spored, and the gleba composed of chains of roughly spherical, fusiform, ellipsoid to broadly club-shaped cells that are either 6.5–7.4 by 2.8–5.6 µm or 37.1–46.3 by 18–28 µm and also mixed with filamentous cells 2.3–4.5 µm wide. The hyphae of L. mokusin have clamp connections.[8]

Similar speciesEdit

Lysurus cruciatus is similar is appearance to L. mokusin, but has a cylindrical stem without any flutings at the tip. Lysurus borealis is also similar, but its stipe is not fluted, and without the angles present in L. mokusin.[17]

Cross-sectional view of stipe

Edibility and other usesEdit

This species is considered to be edible when still in the immature "egg" stage, and is thought to be a delicacy in China.[18] When mature, its foul odor would deter most individuals from attempting consumption. The fungus has been used medicinally in China as a remedy for ulcers.[19][20]

Habitat and distributionEdit

Lysurus mokusin is saprobic, and grows solitarily or in small groups in forest litter, and wood chip mulch used in landscaping, and compost.[15] Documented sightings of L. mokusin include Australasia,[21] the Canary Islands,[12] Korea,[8] Japan,[22] China (Fujian Province),[23] and the Bonin Islands.[24] The species was unknown in Europe until it was reported in Italy in 1979;[25] it is considered an alien species in that continent.[26] In the United States, it has been collected from the states of California,[27] Texas, Northeast Oklahoma and Washington, D.C.[18] It was photographed in Frederick, Maryland on Sept 12, 2022.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Lysurus mokusin (L.) Fr. 1823". MycoBank. International Mycological Association. Retrieved 2010-10-25.
  2. ^ Cibot P-M. (1775). "Descriptio Phalli quinquaguli seu fungi Sinensium Mo-ku-sin". Novi Commentarii Academiae Scientiarum Imperialis Petropolitanae (in Latin). 19: 373. See also the illustration on Table 5.
  3. ^ Bo L, Johnson TW (1980). "A brief historical survey of fungal taxonomy and floristics in China". Mycologia. 73 (6): 1098–107. doi:10.2307/3759679. JSTOR 3759679.
  4. ^ Persoon CH. (1801). Synopsis Methodica Fungorum (in Latin). Vol. 2. Göttingen, Germany: Apud H. Dieterich. p. 245.
  5. ^ Fries EM. (1823). Systema Mycologicum (in Latin). Vol. 2. Greifswald, Germany: Sumtibus Ernesti Mauritii. p. 286.
  6. ^ "Lysurus Fr". MycoBank. International Mycological Association. Retrieved 2010-10-25.
  7. ^ Kobayasi Y. (1938). "Hymenogastrineae et Phallineae". In Nakai T, Honda M (eds.). Nova Flora Japonica. Tokyo, Japan: Sanseido Co. p. 52.
  8. ^ a b c Seok SJ, Kim YS, Ryu YJ, Park DS (1995). "Higher Fungi in Korea" (PDF). Korean Journal of Mycology. 23 (2): 144–52.
  9. ^ "Common names of the fungi of North America" (PDF). The Mushroom Hunter. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-10-06. Retrieved 2009-01-09.
  10. ^ McKnight VB, McKnight KH (1987). A Field Guide to Mushrooms, North America. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin. p. 345. ISBN 0-395-91090-0.
  11. ^ Hosaka K, Bates ST, Beever RE, Castellano MA, Colgan W, Domínguez LS, Nouhra ER, Geml J, Giachini AJ, Kenney SR, Simpson NB, Spatafora JW, Trappe JM (2006). "Molecular phylogenetics of the gomphoid-phalloid fungi with an establishment of the new subclass Phallomycetidae and two new orders". Mycologia. 98 (6): 949–59. doi:10.3852/mycologia.98.6.949. PMID 17486971.
  12. ^ a b Beltran TE, Banares Baudet A, Rodriguez-Armas JL (1998). "Gasteromycetes on the Canary Islands: Some noteworthy new records". Mycotaxon. 67: 439–53.
  13. ^ Armstrong WP. "The Amazing World of Fungi". Wayne's Word: An On-Line Textbook of Natural History. Retrieved 2010-10-26.
  14. ^ Wood M, Stevens F. "Lysurus mokusin". California Fungi. Retrieved 2010-10-26.
  15. ^ a b c Smith KN. (2005). A Field Guide to the Fungi of Australia. Sydney, NSW, Australia: University of New South Wales Press. p. 198. ISBN 0-86840-742-9.
  16. ^ Burk WR, Flegler SL, Hess WM (1982). "Ultrastructural studies of Clathraceae and Phallaceae (Gasteromycetes) spores". Mycologia. 74 (1): 166–68. doi:10.2307/3792646. JSTOR 3792646.
  17. ^ Miller HR, Miller OK (2006). North American Mushrooms: a Field Guide to Edible and Inedible Fungi. Guilford, Connecticut: Falcon Guide. p. 481. ISBN 0-7627-3109-5.
  18. ^ a b Kuo M. "Lysurus mokusin: The Lantern Stinkhorn". MushroomExpert.Com. Retrieved 2009-01-09.
  19. ^ Rolfe F. (1974). The Romance of the Fungus World: An Account of Fungus Life in its Numerous Guises, both Real and Legendary. New York, NY: Dover Publications. p. 142. ISBN 0-486-23105-4.
  20. ^ Mao X, Ying J (1987). Icons of Medicinal Fungi from China. Beijing, China: Science Press. pp. 474–75. ISBN 7-03-000195-8.
  21. ^ Cunningham GH. (1931). "The Gasteromycetes of Australasia. XI. The Phallales, part II". Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales. 56 (3): 182–200.
  22. ^ Dring DM. (1980). "Contributions towards a rational arrangement of the Clathraceae". Kew Bulletin. 35 (1): 1–96. doi:10.2307/4117008. JSTOR 4117008.
  23. ^ Huang N-L. (1985). "Notes on Phalalles from Fujian China". Wuyi Science Journal (in Chinese). 5: 211–18. ISSN 1001-4276.
  24. ^ Hongo T. (1978). "Higher fungi of the Bonin Islands. Part 2". Kinjin Kenkyusho Kenkyū Hōkoku (Reports of the Tottori Mycological Institute). 16: 59–65. ISSN 0388-8266.
  25. ^ Nonis U. (1979). "Presence in Italy of Lysurus mokusin new record". Micologia Italiana (in Italian). 8 (2): 39–41. ISSN 0390-0460.
  26. ^ Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventories for Europe (2009). "List of species alien in Europe and to Europe". Handbook of Alien Species in Europe. Invading Nature – Springer Series in Invasion Ecology. Berlin: Springer. p. 140. ISBN 978-1-4020-8279-5.
  27. ^ Cooke WB, Nyland G (1961). "Clathraceae in California". Madroño. 16 (2): 33–42.