by Matthew Cobb
This video is ABSOLUTELY REAL.
Clathrus archeri is native to Australia and New Zealand, and has been introduced elsewhere. It is now present in parts of Europe, where it was first recorded in 1914 in France, apparently introduced with military supplies at the start of the First World War. It is also found in North America, especially in California, where it was first reported in 1982 and considered to have been introduced with exotic plants.
It was first found in Britain at Penzance in Cornwall and later was found to be established in parts of Sussex. Since then it has been found in Bedfordshire, Hampshire, Kent, Suffolk, Surrey, and the Channel Islands, and is apparently slowly expanding its distribution.
The genus Clathrus differs from Phallus in having either a lattice-like fruitbody or tentacle-like arms rather than a single stem on which the gleba (fertile tissue) is produced. Clathrus species are commonly known as ‘cage fungi’, as many of them are lattice-like in form and lack free arms.
Clathrus archeri is a distinctive fungus, developing from a gelatinous egg stage, and almost squid-like in form, with a short stalk-like base and reddish spore-bearing arms.
The egg-stage is ovoid in shape and 4 – 6 cm high by 2 – 4 cm wide. The surface is whitish and soon becomes marked with furrows which outline the arms. The endoperidium (inner layer of fruitbody wall) is greenish-brown and gelatinous. The gleba (spore-bearing tissue) is olive-brown, blackish at maturity, mucilaginous (sticky), and borne on the inner face of the arms. The receptacle has a short, hollow stem 3 – 6 cm high and 1 – 3 cm wide and is pale below and pinkish above. It has four to eight slender, pointed, chambered, pink to reddish arms each 5 – 10 cm long. These are joined at the tip at first, but soon break free, spreading and drooping. The spore mass is olive-brown.
Anyone who’s come across one of these things in the wild, chip in below. I still think it looks like an alien. Mind you, what would I know? What do aliens look like? How would we know? What is ‘knowing” when it comes to aliens. etc etc etc.