Friday, October 29, 2010

Strange Growth and Zabrina's Close Call



I’ve been noticing these growing in my garden this past season. When I first saw them, it was at the peak of summer when the Foxgloves were blooming and occasionally dropping their petals. These are about the same size and of a similar color. However, when I went to pick one up I realized that it was attached to the ground – and that it was actually something growing. It turns out to be something fairly common, called a stinkhorn. It's a fungus that grows out of an egg that is buried just underground. As if that isn't strange enough, it seems that certain varieties cause a tremendous stench when they let loose their spores, hence the name. Luckily these seem to be an odorless variety.

Bear and both cats were out with me while I was taking the above photo. I was focused on getting a clear image when Bear commenced alarm barking and rushed towards the fence. I looked up to see what the danger was and saw a coyote loping up the hill, and then another. It’s unusual to see them out during the day; especially so late- it was about 3pm. I looked around quickly to locate the cats. Tasha was right by my feet calmly chewing on grass, but Zabrina, who had been nearby a moment before was nowhere to be seen. I started up the steps toward the gate. I wanted to check for sure that she hadn’t gone over the fence toward the ravine when up she popped onto the top and stood on the edge of the fence with big, big eyes and a very bushy tail. She didn’t want to jump down and just remained nervously balanced on the edge. I realized that the coyotes might be just on the other side. I opened the gate and ran out, scaring them away and managed to get this shot in just as they disappeared over the edge of the ravine. Thanks goodness for Bear’s alertness. I hope Zabrina’s learned some wisdom from the close call.

7 comments:

Jean Spitzer said...

Very scary. And those stink things, very strange.

Melissa said...

Wow, that was a close call. Thank god everyone is all right. I've found a couple of those spores on the yard. They look like a crab or lobster claw coming out of the ground

Katherine Kean said...

Hi Jean - scary, yes. So glad nothing bad happened.

Hi Melissa, I'm glad too. So, you've seen the stinkhorns? They do look like some kind of body part growing out of the ground!

Kathryn Hansen said...

oh wow...how scary! I've hardly seen a coyote by us since the fires, but will be on the lookout now!

I'm glad all your animals are safe!!

Katherine Kean said...

Thanks Kathryn - I'm glad too.

jeronimus said...

My father once had a trailer-load of garden soil delivered for garden beds around the house. One day I noticed a disgusting smell and found dozens of those things popping up. I discovered that you have to dig out the 'egg' or they just grow back. It was like something out of an old Star Trek episode.

Katherine Kean said...

Jeronimus - Great description - it is like something from a Star Trek episode. Thanks for the info about the 'egg' part!