Aseroe rubra, alias the stinkhorn or starfish fungus is making its annual appearance in Australian east coast gardens.
An Australian native fungus (which has escaped widely overseas) it smells of rotting meat which attracts flies that spread its spores. It’s often found growing to about 10cm (4″) high on woodchip mulch (especially eucalypt) and also sports an attractive olive-black slime covering. Its name derives from the Ancient Greek words Asē/αση ‘disgust’ and roē/ροη ‘juice’.
Aseroe rubra was the first species of fungus to be collected and described from Australia. Jacques Labillardière (1755-1834), a member of the D’Entrecasteaux expedition, collected the specimen on 1 May 1792 at Recherche Bay in southern Tasmania and published an account of it in 1800.