Veiled Lady Mushroom (Phallus indusiatus)
The Phallus indusiatus is a stinkhorn mushroom that goes by many names, including veiled lady, bridal veil fungus, bamboo mushroom, bamboo pith, crinoline stinkhorn, and long net stinkhorn.
The veiled lady is known for its beautiful veil or net-like structure and its stench, as it is a stinkhorn.
It is also sought after because it is a tasty edible mushroom and has long been believed to be an aphrodisiac.
This fungus grows in an egg-shaped form until it erupts through the soil with enough power that it has been known to break through asphalt.
This article will cover where to find this mushroom, how it is cooked, and the beliefs around its aphrodisiacal properties.
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How to Identify Phallus Indusiatus
Stinkhorns are all unique, but Phallus indusiatus stands out because of its white veil and stem that beautifully contrast the dark cap.
As with many other mushrooms, the species relies on the help of insects to carry away its spores.
The net-like structure, called the indusium, drops after the mushroom sprouts and can help with stability, protection and offer easy access to insects looking to crawl to the gleba.
It attracts insects with the green-brown colored gleba on its tip, which produces a powerful scent.
Insects come to investigate or eat the gleba and end up carrying some of it away on their legs to spread the spores it contains.
After erupting from its egg-like form, the cap will be covered in gleba, but insects will usually devour the slime within a day or two.
The cap is conical and can grow to be 1.5-4 cm (0.6-1.6 inches) wide.
It has a visible raised net-like surface similar to its indusium, which is more visible after the gleba is cleaned off.
The cap color is a light to dark brown and lighter on the protruding net-like part.
Phallus indusiatus has no gills; it produces spores in the slimy gleba on the cap.
Its stem is white with a fine spongey surface.
The whole fruiting body can grow up to 25 cm (10 inches) tall.
They have an olive green spore print.
Location and Fruiting
Found often in bamboo forests of Asia and other tropical climates, including parts of Africa, Australia, and southern Mexico.
After fruiting, these stinkhorns only last a day or two before drying and shriveling up.
These can grow in small clusters or alone and seem to grow well on disturbed areas of soil.
While there are many stinkhorn species, only a handful of others have similar-looking indusium (net or veil-like structures).
- Phallus merulinus seems close in appearance but often grows smaller, and the indusium is shorter.
- Phallus cinnabarinus is very similar but has a stunning red-orange indusium.
- Phallus duplicatus will also differ in that it will have a shorter indusium with smaller gaps.
- Phallus multicolor differs mostly by color. Its cap, stipe, and indusium are brighter, with colors usually ranging from peach to orange.
- Phallus luteus is also distinguishable by its color. It will usually have a bright yellow indusium.
- Phallus impudicus is very similar in appearance to P. indusiatus but does not have an indusium.
It is important to note that Phallus indusiatus and similar species were previously referred to as Dictyophora indusiata until being identified as separate species.
What Does Phallus Indusiatus Smell Like?
As previously mentioned, the stench of stinkhorns like Phallus Indusiatus is strong in order to attract insects, mostly flies.
Stinkhorns like Phallus indusiatus are described as smelling like feces, decomposing waste, or literally as the stench of death. The gleba is a slimy substance containing reproductive spores and stinky chemicals great for attracting flies which help spread the spores.
The scent is often so strong that people hunt and locate them simply by smell.
Eating Phallus Indusiatus
Phallus indusiatus, or the bamboo mushroom, was once considered the most choice edible mushroom. It is high in protein and is commonly sold dried in Asian markets. It can be eaten in its "egg-like" or mature mushroom form and is said to have a savory taste close to chicken.
This mushroom used to be more expensive until it started being grown on a larger scale which made them more affordable.
It still can sell commonly sell for over 5 dollars per ounce.
It is most commonly rehydrated before being added to soups.
The immature form of Phallus indusiatus is an egg-like structure that is edible.
While the fruited mushroom has been reported to taste like chicken, the egg form is said to have a mild radish-like taste.
These are most often prepared for consumption by removing the outer layer and a bit of the bottom parts with roots (or rhizomorphs).
The eggs can then be boiled, but the preferred method seems to be cutting them sauteeing them with a little cooking oil. They are also enjoyed pickled.
Phallus indusiatus has been consumed for at least a few hundred years in China and reportedly used for various medical ailments.
As with many mushrooms, there is still much to be done in the way of research, but there has been some progress.
There has been promising Phallus indusiatus research showing the species could be further developed to be used in the following areas:
In fact, the Chinese have believed this fungus to have these properties for a long time.
Remember to never consume wild mushrooms without positively identifying the species with the help of an expert.
Is Phallus Indusiatus an Aphrodisiac?
There are claims that species of stinkhorns can act as an aphrodisiac and even have caused instant orgasms.
Though there are many claims that stinkhorns can serve as an aphrodisiac, there seems to be insufficient evidence to support the claims. It is likely the stories of stinkhorn mushrooms inducing sexual arousal come from their shape and the fact they erupt from the ground quickly.
A small study published in the Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms states that women had spontaneous orgasms upon smelling netted stinkhorns.
However, this study lacks sufficient evidence and hasn't been further proved in any way since it was published in 2001.
Common sense tells me if this study was truly accurate, these mushrooms would be a hot selling item at Adam & Eve by now.