Far be it from us to start riots in the produce aisle, so let’s set the record straight on this fascinating mushroom. You won’t find these at the grocery store. No, not even at Whole Foods, but if you’re up to climbing a lava flow in Hawaii (and who wouldn’t be?), there’s a bright orange mushroom growing there you might want to check out.
In 2001, a couple of scientists wrote a report and published it in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms. Perhaps you saw it, but then again maybe not. Anyway, for the study, they had rounded up some male and female volunteers to test the effects of an unnamed species of fungus.
Stick around. This gets good.
At the time, there were stories going around the locker room that the scent of this particular variety, although hardly pleasant, is a powerful female aphrodisiac, so, the scientists conducted a “smell test”. Sure enough, six of the women reportedly experienced a mild, spontaneous orgasm when they took a whiff of the mushroom, and the other ten had an increased heart rate.
The men, however, all said the thing just stank. They found its “fetid odor” disgusting.
Sadly, the results of the research have yet to be duplicated, and there’s no evidence outside of their study that an orgasm can be triggered entirely by a scent. That, and the remarkably small sample size, make it highly unlikely that the work will gain much traction in the scientific community.
But we have to admit that the mushroom’s intriguing, because there’s lots more to know about the little stinker. First, there’s the name: “phallus”. While you think about that, we’ll also tell you that it’s also called “dichtyophora”, and it’s a stinkhorn, to boot.
Dictyophora mushrooms, also called “veiled ladies”, grow so quickly that they can “bloom” in just 45 minutes. The shape of the one in question could be called “suggestive”. It’s possible that the unidentified test mushroom was the same one mentioned in Hawaiian and South Pacific folklore as Mamalo o Wahine, which translates to “women’s mushroom”. It’s been used in Chinese medicine since the 7th century.
In any event, we can report with absolute certainty that at least one member of this fungal family, Dictyophora indusiata, smells like feces.
Enjoy your dinner…. and perhaps something else later tonight.