Mutinus caninus

Dog stinkhorn
Gemeine Hundsrute Mutinus caninus.JPG
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Fungi
Division: Basidiomycota
Class: Agaricomycetes
Order: Phallales
Family: Phallaceae
Genus: Mutinus
M. caninus
Binomial name
Mutinus caninus
(Huds.) Fr. (1849)
  • Phallus caninus Huds. (1778)
  • Phallus inodorus Sowerby (1801)
  • Ithyphallus inodorus Gray (1821)
  • Aedycia canina (Huds.) Kuntze (1898)
  • Cynophallus caninus (Huds.) Fr. (1860)
Mutinus caninus
View the Mycomorphbox template that generates the following list
smooth hymenium
no distinct cap
stipe has a volva
spore print is olive-brown
ecology is saprotrophic
edibility: not recommended

Mutinus caninus, commonly known as the dog stinkhorn,[1][2] is a small thin, phallus-shaped woodland fungus, with a dark tip. It is often found growing in small groups on wood debris, or in leaf litter, during summer and autumn in Europe, Asia, and eastern North America. It is not generally considered edible, although there are reports of the immature 'eggs' being consumed.[3]


The genus name Mutinus was a phallic deity, Mutinus Mutunus (known to the Greeks as Priapus), one of the Roman di indigetes placated by Roman brides,[3] and caninus means "dog-like" in Latin.[4] Mutinus is the diminutive of muto, a Latin word for Penis. It was described initially by William Hudson (1730–1793), a noted British botanist. Its common names in French, Phallus de Chien, Satyre des chiens, also hint at its resemblance to a dog penis. It is commonly known as the "dog stinkhorn".[1]


Cross section of the immature 'egg'

This small member of the family Phallaceae emerges from an off-white egg-like fruiting body that lies half buried in leaf litter on the woodland floor. White mycelial cords (rhizomorphs), are often visible beneath this 'egg', which is 2–4 cm (1–1.5 in) high, and 1–2 cm (0.5–1 in) wide.[5] The 'egg' has a tough outer skin (peridium), which covers a gelatinous inner layer, which in turn protects the fully formed, but unexpanded fruiting body. When the ‘egg’ splits open the fungus expands rapidly (usually within a few hours), to its full height of 10–12 cm (4–4.5 in). It is around 1 cm (0.5 in) thick, and is either yellowish-white, yellow, or pale orange. The split egg is retained as a volva-like sack, at the base. The column is very fragile, pitted, and cylindrical. It has a pointed tip, and is usually curved. The tip is covered in the spore bearing matter (gleba) which is a dark olive-brown paste, and has a smell which is irresistible to insects. (These insects help distribute the spores on their bodies, and in their stomachs.) Beneath the spore mass the tip is dark orange. Although its smell is not as strong as the related common stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus), it has been described as smelling like cat faeces.[6]

American mycologist Sanford Myron Zeller described an albino form of the fungus based on collections made in Warrengon, Oregon. It is essentially identical to the regular form but pure white throughout, except for the gleba.[7] This form, named M. caninus var. albus, was first mentioned in the scientific literature by Edward Angus Burt in 1896.[8]

Similar speciesEdit

Mutinus ravenelii is pinker in coloration, with a red tip. It is a rarer American species, now spreading in Europe.[5] Another North American species Mutinus elegans is very similar to M. ravenelii, and is short and stocky, with a more pointed apex.

Distribution and habitatEdit

The dog stinkhorn is found occasionally, and is quite common in Europe, Britain, and Eastern North America.[3] The fungus is listed in the red data list of the Ukraine.[9] A collection from the Canary Islands was noted as the southernmost collection for the species in the Northern Hemisphere.[10] It has also been collected in Iran,[11] Turkey,[12] and China, including Hebei, Jilin, and Guangdong.[13] It appears from summer to late autumn, and is usually found in small groups; in leaf litter; on wood debris, or wooded roadsides. It may occur in both deciduous, and coniferous woods. The fruit bodies of the fungus can serve as a food source for thief ants and developing blow flies (Phormia regina).[14]


The dog stinkhorn is probably edible at the ‘egg’ stage, but it is not recommended. At least one report from in the eastern United States strongly recommends the 'eggs' peeled and fried as a tasty dish.[3]



  1. ^ a b "Recommended English Names for Fungi in the UK" (PDF). British Mycological Society. p. 29. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-16.
  2. ^ "Standardized Common Names for Wild Species in Canada". National General Status Working Group. 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d Arora, David (1986). Mushrooms Demystified. Berkeley, California: Ten Speed Press. p. 771. ISBN 0-89815-169-4.
  4. ^ Simpson, D.P. (1979). Cassell's Latin Dictionary (5 ed.). London, UK: Cassell Ltd. p. 883. ISBN 0-304-52257-0.
  5. ^ a b Laessøe, Thomas (1998). Mushrooms. London, UK: Dorling Kindersley. ISBN 0-7513-1070-0.
  6. ^ Zeitlmayr, Linus (1976). Wild Mushrooms: An Illustrated Handbook. Hertfordshire, UK: Garden City Press. p. 114. ISBN 0-584-10324-7.
  7. ^ Zeller, Sanford Myron (1944). "A white variety of Mutinus caninus". Mycologia. 36 (3): 263–65. doi:10.2307/3754822. JSTOR 3754822.
  8. ^ Burt, Edward A. (1896). "The development of Mutinus caninus (Huds.), Fr". Annals of Botany. 10: 343–72.
  9. ^ Sarkina, I.S.; Prydiuk, M.P.; Heluta, V.P. (2003). "Macromycetes of Crimea, listed in the red data book of Ukraine". Ukrayins'kyi Botanichnyi Zhurnal (in Ukrainian). 60 (4): 438 46. ISSN 0372-4123.
  10. ^ Beltrán Tejera, E.; Bañares Baudet, A.; Rodríguez-Armas, J.L. (1998). "Gasteromycetes on the Canary Islands: Some noteworthy new records". Mycotaxon. 67: 439–53.
  11. ^ Saber, M. (1986). "Contribution to the knowledge of Gasteromycetes collected in Iran". Iranian Journal of Plant Pathology. 22 (1–4): 25–38.
  12. ^ Demirel K, Uzun Y (2004). "Two new records of Phallales for the mycoflora of Turkey" (PDF). Turkish Journal of Botany. 28 (1–2): 213–14. ISSN 1300-008X.
  13. ^ Zhishu B, Zheng G, Taihui L (1993). The Macrofungus Flora of China's Guangdong Province (Chinese University Press). New York, New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 545–46. ISBN 962-201-556-5.
  14. ^ Stoffolano, J.G.; Zou, B.X.; Yin, C.M. (1990). "The stinkhorn fungus, Mutinus caninus, as a potential food for egg development in the blowfly, Phormia regina". Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata. 55 (3): 267–73. doi:10.1111/j.1570-7458.1990.tb01371.x. ISSN 0013-8703. S2CID 84990045.