I found these (possible) Latticed Stinkhorns fruiting in the redwood grove at the SB Botanic Garden. Do you concur with the identification or are there other, more plausible possibilities at this location?
Whenever we have a question that requires a fungi expert, we ask Bob Cummings, who teaches in the Botany Department at Santa Barbara City College in the Biological Sciences. Here's what he had to say:
"Yes, this is Clathrus ruber, known by the common names Lattice Stinkhorn and Basket Stinkhorn. They are usually covered with flies that are fooled into visiting by the disgusting odors of the mushrooms, meanwhile getting the smelly spore mass on their feet, resulting in an effective method of spore dispersal. This is quite different from most fungi, which disperse spores in the wind. Clathrus ruber has become quite common in Southern California in the last couple of years. It is a decomposer of organic material, popping up in well-mulched gardens all over Santa Barbara. It is said to be an invasive Asian species that apparently made it here on plant material and, like many invasive organisms, is now thriving. Good find. You'll no doubt be seeing it around more often now."
Steven Gaulin response:
Thanks very much for your quick and informative reply. I and the community appreciate your generously donated expertise.
I used to live in wetter climes (Pennsylvania) where I did a fair bit of mushroom foraging. I never came across Clathrus ruber but its broad similarity to Pseudocolus sp. (which I assure you I never ate, but knew) gave me a starting point.
Again, thanks for your kind input.
Steven Gaulin, Prof. of Anthropology, UCSB