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.