Last year in spring I found something reddish on the ground in the forest. I wondered what remains this could have been, either some rest of an animal or a part of a plant. This year I found the solution. Finding the complete body, it appears to be a mushroom with an amazing form.
Clathrus ruber is a species of fungus in the stinkhorn family. It is commonly known as the latticed stinkhorn, the basket stinkhorn, or the red cage, alluding to the striking fruit bodies that are shaped somewhat like a round or oval hollow sphere with interlaced or latticed branches. The fungus is saprobic, feeding off decaying woody plant material.
The fruit body initially appears like a whitish "egg" attached to the ground at the base by cords called rhizomorphs.
Then the fruit body bursts the egg open as it expands into a spongy latticed "arms", showing the ribbed and wrinkled outer surface, and gleba on the inner surface. Within a few days the gleba has a fetid odor, somewhat like rotting meat, which attracts flies and other insects to help disperse its spores.
It is considered native to southern and central continental Europe and is common in South of France and Corsica. It appears from spring to autumn mainly on acid soils.
Although the edibility of the fungus is not known with certainty, its odor would deter most from consuming it.
C. ruber was not regarded highly in tales in southern European folklore and was said to be used by witches, which suggested that those who handled the mushroom risked contracting various ailments.
More mushrooms of the Sant valley