You might not think about it, but when you eat a mushroom, you’re consuming one of the most diverse and magical life forms on the planet.
The members of the Fungi kingdom—which includes mushrooms, yeasts, and molds—come in a startling array of forms. But none hold a candle to the utterly bizarre Clathrus archeri, also known as the devil’s fingers.
Native to New Zealand and Australia, Clathrus archeri is also known as devil’s fingers. It is what’s known as a phalloid fungus. But unlike most of its fungi brethren, devil’s fingers doesn’t sprout straight from the earth. Instead, it begins life in a kind of egg sack.
As it matures, the sack is breached by a number of terrifying red tentacles. At first glance,they look like some kind of demon reaching up from the underworld, but they’re actually totally benign.
The four arms are coated in a sticky, strong-smelling tissue meant to attract flies. However, the fungus is not carnivorous. Instead, it contaminates the flies with its spore, turning them into agents of dispersal.