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Report From An Opinionated Gardener – September 2

Aliens erupted from the soil in my back yard this morning, and thankfully, I was there to see them. The rising sun illuminated about four-dozen orange, claw-like forms poking up out of the ground. Lobsters from outer space were emerging, and they must not have bathed since they left the home planet because their odor was foul.

These smelly claws weren’t really extraterrestrials, of course, but another variety of stinkhorn fungus. Pseudocolus fusiformis is commonly called stinky squid, and if I ever find myself in an elevator with Mother Nature, I’ll have to ask, “How on earth did this one come about?”

By tonight they were gone. Had I not gone out this morning, had I been in my kitchen drinking coffee and reading my email as usual, I would have missed this weird, odoriferous eruption.

True, we can’t be everywhere at all times. But frankly, most of us spend a great deal of time on familiar, habitual behaviors. If we want to see something new, we have to do something new.

Someday we'll have computers that emit smells so when we're looking at photos of roses, we'll also be sniffing their perfume and when reading about the ocean we'll inhale the briny, salt air. If you're looking at a webpage about stinky squid fungi, you'll want to turn that smell software off.

Like other stinkhorns, this one attracts flies and beetles because it smells like rotting meat. Those insects get spores on their legs that they spread as they travel, making sure that others who have disturbed woodland areas, or bark mulch, will enjoy an alien eruption too.

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