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Bizarre ‘devil’s fingers’ fungus that smells like rotting meat found in the UK

Mushroom enthusiast Ethan, 26, was strolling through Derby when he smelled the rancid odour of rotting flesh – leading him to a patch of the pungent “devil’s fingers” fungus

The Wildlife Trust says the mushroom looks like a red starfish with long tentacles – with a disgusting aroma of rotting meat

A rare type of fungus that lets off a pungent aroma of rotting meat has been found in the UK.

Ethan, 26, was strolling through Derby city on his lunch break when he smelled the rancid odour of rotten flesh.

The web developer and mushroom enthusiast said he was fascinated by what he found next, Derbyshire Live reports.

In front of a small shrubbery in the city centre was a patch of “devil’s fingers” mushroom, a fungus native to the southern hemisphere.

He said: “I was just on my work break on Tuesday, probably around midday, and I go for a stroll sometimes.

“I’ve recently taken an interest in foraging and nature and things, so I’m always having a look to see if I can identify them at all.



A mushroom enthusiast identified only as Ethan, 26, said he stumbled upon the stinking fungus on his lunch break
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“I was just walking past there, I wasn’t actively thinking about it or looking, I’m not sure if I saw it first or smelt it because it makes a rotting meat smell.

“I’d watched a few videos online about foraging and guides to identifying them in the UK, and I started getting into mushrooms and trees and whether they’re poisonous or not.

“It became a good Covid activity obviously because you can walk around outside and become a bit more connected with your environment.”

Clathrus Archeri, commonly known as “devil’s fingers”, is a fungus usually found below the equator.

First spotted in the UK in 1914, they are usually found growing from woodchips in damp, shaded areas.

According to the Wildlife Trust, the “devil’s fingers” fungus are strange and smelly.

They look like a set of long red tentacles – which can grow to 7cm-long – topped with a starfish.

Though not poisonous, they give off a smell of rotting flesh to attract insects which go on to spread their spores.

Ethan thinks the devil’s fingers may have been imported on wood chips to Derby.

He said: “I’ve done a bit research on it and although it’s not a concrete theory, it supposedly is from New Zealand/Australia and was accidentally brought here in WWI along with supplies, it’s not often found this far North in the country and it’s usually found in the south.

“They certainly don’t seem very native, and because that’s not a very natural area, I wonder whether they got here with the wood chips.

“They’re definitely unusual in the Derby area.”


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