Clathrus archeri , commonly known as Octopus Stinkhorn or Devil's fingers, is indigenous to Australia and Tasmania and an introduced species in Europe and North America. The young fungus erupts from a suberumpent egg by forming into four to seven elongated slender arms initially erect and attached at the top. The arms then unfold to reveal a pinkish-red interior covered with a dark-olive spore-containing gleba. In maturity it smells of putrid flesh.
Fruiting Body: 5-15 cm high; consisting of 4-8 (rarely up to 12) arms that arise from a flared stem and are loosely held together before separating and spreading outwards at maturity; arms 3-10 cm long, tapered to apices, blood red on the inner (upper) surface and paler red elsewhere, finely pitted; stem up to about 5 cm high, whitish below and pinkish to reddish above, with the base encased in a whitish volva and attached to white rhizomorphs. Spore slime dark greenish brown to nearly black; covering the inner surfaces of the arms; malodorous.
It is edible in the egg stage, but of inferior quality. Those who tried taste it, found both the texture and flavor very disagreeable.
This extraordinary stinkhorn looks more like a denizen of a tide pool than a fungus. With octopus-like arms, it appears to be lying in wait for an unwary visitor. The reality is less sinister, though not entirely pleasant either. The pinkish-red color and fetid odor presumably imitates decaying flesh, thus attracting flies. Like bees drawn to flowers, the flies unwittingly spread the species by picking up bits of the dark-olive spore-containing gleba. Clathrus archeri is native to Australia and Tasmania, apparently finding its way to California via bamboo nursery stock. Although a saprophyte and seemingly unspecific in substrate requirements, not just bamboo, it has not spread widely, and is known currently in California only from Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties. A close cousin, Clathrus ruber is found commonly in wood chips in urban areas. It is spectacular in its own right, producing a pinkish-red, hollow, basket-shaped structure, the interior lined with malodorous gleba.