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Tim Lockley: These fungi raise a stink, but don't judge them

The stinkhorns are emerging a little early this year and, unlike previous years, the one I'm seeing aren't the "dead man's fingers" that I'd normally expect. As often as not, they're Ravenel's stinkhorn. Most of the time, the fungus is unseen and, more importantly, unsmelled; its fine strands of mycelia growing in the soil feeding on dead organic material. Mushrooms are the Earth's greatest decomposers. They are an important part of the environment, helping to break down dead material into simpler compounds that create a healthy, fertile soil. When a fungus matures, and when the weather is just right, it produces a fruiting structure...the mushroom.

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