The Devil's Fingers

30 August 2017 | Posted in fungi
The Devil's Fingers
Devil's fingers / Sam Ellis

Halloween arrived early when this terrifying-looking fungi, known as devil's fingers or octopus stinkhorn, was spotted at Brickfield Meadow nature reserve near Fairwarp. It was this first time this exotic species had been recorded on a Sussex Wildlife Trust nature reserve.

The fungi are native to New Zealand and Australia and made their way over to Europe in 1914, believed to have been introduced through military supplies during the start of the First World War. It was first spotted in Cornwall, gradually spreading to other southern counties in the UK.

While most fungi emerge from the earth or deadwood, the devil’s fingers hatches from a slimy, gelatinous ‘egg’. As the fungi grows, the tentacle-like arms start to protrude eventually reaching a length of 5 to 10 centimetres.

The arms of the alien fungus are covered in a brown foul-smelling goo. The stench they emit is truly horrible, akin to rotting flesh, but it attracts flies that help to disperse the fungi’s spores.

If you spot this amazing fungus in Sussex, please let us know using our species recording form.


  • Adèle Anderson:

    31 Aug 2017 12:56:31

    Spotted one of these fungi on our land on Monday and took a photo as so unusual and I didn’t know what it was

  • v.mitchell:

    01 Sep 2017 07:27:24

    I have loads of devils fingers this year been erupting for the last couple of weeks.

  • Susan Horne:

    03 Sep 2017 06:17:26

    I saw some devils fingers in top end of perrymans lane, high hurstwood , near A26 a few years ago. Wondered what they were

  • Geoff Cook:

    03 Sep 2017 10:05:52

    Devils Fingers seen by daughter growing in our weald meadow, adjacent to Furnace Wood, off Furnace Lane, Horam on Monday 28 August 2017. OS ref/ TQ571179

  • Frances and Bill Arter:

    23 Sep 2017 14:01:22

    Found something similar in our field today, in Thakeham, but ours is more akin to an image of Asereo rubra except that ours does not have a black centre, it has black spots.

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