Stumbled onto this beauty while walking along Bukit Burung Trail in Kinabalu Park Headquarters last week. I have only ever seen it once before. If I am not mistaken, this is the Phallus indusiatus. It has many common English names, all of which makes references to the beautiful net-cage surrounding the stalk. The names include long net stinkhorn, crinoline stinkhorn, basket stinkhorn, bridal veil fungus and (my favourite) veiled lady.
The veiled lady belongs to a group of fungus known as stinkhorns, which as its name suggests, reproduces by producing a sticky spore mass on its tip which smells like carrion to attract flies and bees. The smell is supposed to be repulsive to humans, but I couldn’t smell anything. That could be because this veiled lady was an old veiled lady and the smell is no longer there. The next day I went there again, and this was what was left of it.
This fungus is eaten in China, especially in Yunnan and Canton. Previously, it was only collected in the wild and this meant that the veiled lady was a very expensive delicacy. 30 years ago, the price of one kilogram of dried fungus costs Us$770 in Hong Kong, but the price has dropped to about US$10 to US$20 per kg since China started cultivating it.
And of course I can’t end this article without mentioning this.
“According to an article in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, the smell of this fungus when fresh can trigger spontaneous orgasms in human females. In the study, all of men found the smell disgusting. This journal article focused on the species found in Hawaii, not the variety cultivated in China.”
What about the one in Kinabalu Park?