Grows in MULCH and LEAF LITTER.
These “basket” or “cage” fungi” are grouped with the “Stinkhorns”, so named because the spore bearing mass, the gleba, is a brownish slime with a “rotting meat” smell. Flies and insects are drawn to the smell of the spore mass and very rapidly remove all traces of it, so spreading the spores.
Stinkhorns are usually quite colourful and can be phallic shaped, have arms or, like Colus pusillus, even form a cage-like structure.
Fruit-body: The first sighting maybe of an “egg” or a cluster of “eggs” in the mulch or grass. At maturity, usually early in the morning, a red/crimson/orange cage like structure, made up of linked wrinkled arms, breaks out of the egg. This fruit-body rapidly softens and sags.
Stem: White to pinkish, central and short to about 15 mm in length.
Spore print: None as the spores are in the brown slimy spore mass, the gleba, which coats the inside of the linked arms.
Smell: Usually described as foetid, like rotting meat.
Habit: Grows on the ground in mulch and litter, it can be solitary or in clusters after rain.
Notes: This is a saprotrophic fungus.