Common Name: Bamboo fungus or veiled ladyLatin Name: Phallus indusiatus
Family: Phallaceae
Range and Abundance
This Phallus indusiatus ranges all over the world from Africa to South and Central America to Asia. It has also been found in southern regions of Mexico in North America and Australia. This species is one of several million strains that are found around the world.

Phallus indusiatus has a clear waxy white stem. Their exact color can range due to temperature, elevation and location to yellowish orange color to a more of a cinnamon tone, sometimes it can even appear as a tan or grayish color. The skirt of the mushroom is a waxy white color.
The mature body of the mushroom can grow to 30cm tall and as it grows it produces a net-like structure that hangs around the stem of the mushroom below the conical cap. It appears like a “skirt” and is referred to as the indusium. This skirt like covering looks like a net with round or oval openings. The conical cap grows to about 2-4cm wide.

At first this fungi is hidden because it begins to grow under ground in amass of threadlike vegetative cells called a mycelium. It then searches in a sense for rotting wood and other plant material that litters the forest floor. It can grow and flourish when it finds the right temperature, moisture and nutrient availability and it can produce the mushroom or fruit bodies that are visible above ground.

Reproductive cycle
Unlike other mushrooms the Phallus indusiatus uses a sticky spore mass which posses an attractive odor to bees and flies. Other mushrooms within the family use spores that can blow in the wind to reproduce. The stench of Phallus indusiatus is extremely strong and can be smelled from several yards away. The fly or bee eats the slimy substance until it leaves a bare surface exposed on the cap of the mushroom. Once the slim is gone, the mushroom then produce a fruit body over the night, which can last from 1-3 days depending on the size of the mushroom, until it collapses back in upon itself.

Phallus indusiatus can be found on most rotting plant matter, hardwood trees, logs, stumps and fallen branches even. It can also grow in wounds of living trees as well if the tree is left open to the surrounding environment. It does this because it receives nutrients from breaking down dead organic matter from the forest floor.

It is known as a great tool because it has the ability to detoxify various environmental pollutants that plague the rainforest. It is also edible, however its smell deters many predators. This species in particular has also proven to have anti-inflammatory properties that can be used in human medications. There is currently research being conducted focused on the chemical properties of Phallus indusiatus. Researchers are suggesting that the fungi may have potential tumor reduction properties. It apparently has a unique enzyme that has the ability to cut RNA into smaller components as well as other untapped potential beneficial components.

Interactions in Costa Rica:
In Costa Rica, during one of our day hikes our teacher Dr. Arevalo came across the Phallus indusiatus while walking on one of the trails. I was originally searching for bioluminescent fungi, but was unable to find it. The Phallus indusiatus species we found showed the skirt like covering and the conical cap typical of the species. The very next day we went searching for it again and only found a collapsed remnant of the fungi. We also found many other types of fungi while we were in La Selva that ranged from several species of shelf fungi to other mushrooms.

Work Cited:

Hara C, Kiho T, Tanaka T, Ukai S. (1982). "Anti-inflammatory activity and conformational behavior of a branched (13)-β-D-glucan from an alkaline extract of Dictyophora indusiata Fisch". Carbohydrate Research 110 (1): 77–87.

Jonathan, S. G., A. C. Odebode, and D. D.S. Bawo. "Studies on Collection and Proximate Compositions of Phallus Indusiatus (Vent. Ex. Pers), A Nigerian Higher Fungus." World Journal of Agricultral Sciences 4.1 (2008): 18-22. Print.
Oyetayo, V. O., C.-H. Dong, and Y.-J. Yao. "Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Properties of Aqueous Extract from Dictyophora Indusiata." The Open Mycology Journal 3.1 (2009): 20-26. Print.

Saenz JA, Nassar M. (1982). "Mushrooms of Costa Rica – families Phallaceae and Clathraceae" (in Spanish). Revista de Biologia Tropical 30 (1): 41–52.

Tuno N. (1998). "Spore dispersal of Dictyophora fungi (Phallaceae) by flies". Ecological Research 13 (1): 7–15.

Ukai, Shigeo, Tadashi Kiho, Chihiro Hara, Masuyuki Morita, Arata Goto, Naomi Imaizumi, and Yoshinari Hasegawa. "Polysaccharides in Fungi. XIII. Antitumor Activity of Various Polysaccharides Isolated from Dictyophora Indusiata, Ganoderma Japonicum, Cordyceps Cicadae, Auricularia Auricula-judae, and Auricularia Species." Chem. Pharm. Bull. 31.2 (1983): 741-44. Print.

Yang QY, Jong SC. (1987). "Artificial cultivation of the veiled lady mushroom, Dictyophora indusiata". In Wuest PJ, Royse DJ, Beelman RB. (eds.). Developments in Crop Science: Cultivating Edible Fungi. 10. International Symposium on Scientific and Technical Aspects of Cultivating Edible Fungi, University Park, PA (USA). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier Science Publishers B.V.. pp. 437–42.