views updated

Phallales (class Gasteromycetes) An order of fungi in which the fruit body begins its development underground. It begins as a more or less spherical ‘egg’ stage, 0.5–5.0 cm in diameter, with a smooth, membranaceous peridium enclosing a gelatinous layer. In some genera the fruit body is mature at this stage. In others (the stinkhorns) a stem-like structure grows from the ‘egg’ and carries at its tip a cap of spore-bearing tissue; the cap secretes a putrid-smelling slime which attracts flies, and these are responsible for spore dispersal. There are many genera, found on the ground, on rotting wood, etc.