Monday, March 12, 2007

Those Erotic Mushrooms

Thanks to my interest in old postcards, I stumbled upon a most interesting article entitled "A short note on erotic mushroom imagery in old and modern postcards" (.pdf). The article, written by Tjakko Stijve, was published the Australasian Mycologist (Volume 18, Issue 3) in 1999. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, the illustrations accompanying the brief article do not appear in the online version.

Stijve expresses surprise that “the suggestive shape of the well-known Stinkhorn, Phallus impudicus, has not been a source of inspiration for the artists using erotic imagery in their postcards.” But not to fret, as the provides some wonderful photographs of Phallus impudicus in its various life stages, and in the accompanying text Michael Kuo relates this interesting story:
stinkhorns are extremely phallic, thrusting botanical invasion psychology into realms best analyzed by Freud. Your neighbor, stalking dandelions with a hand trowel every morning, is apparently no match for Etty Darwin (granddaughter of Charles), who ‘so despised stinkhorns that she mounted an antifungal jihad with the aid of gloves and a pointed stick,’ burning the stinkhorns in secret to protect ‘the purity of thought among her female servants.’
On a related note, I was acutely aware of the hallucinogenic properties of some mushrooms, but not that some species of mushrooms are apparently powerful aphrodisiacs.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, stinkhorns are a hoot. I just about fell over laughing at the first one I saw. We have them coming up periodically in a mulch-bed where I work. Some photos of stinkhorns and their associated flies are on BugGuide.

March 12, 2007 8:24 PM  
Blogger John L. Trapp said...

Thanks, Patrick, that's a great link. I'm sure that a study of the ecological relationships between fungi and the various flies and other organisms that live and feed in, on, and among them would be fascinating.

March 12, 2007 8:57 PM  

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