A fungus that looks like something straight out of sci-fi is cropping up in England's forests.
Clathrus archeri, also known as the octopus stinkhorn or devil's fingers, has been plaguing the UK since the days of World War I, when it was accidentally brought over from Australia along with shipments of military supplies. While common in its native countries, it's been slow to spread in England, but specimens have been observed with increasing frequency in the last several months.
The devil's fingers burst from egg-like sacs, the tentacle-like structures slowly spreading like a malformed, grasping demon hand. The tentacles are covered in a brown mucus called gleba, which contains C. archeri's spores. The fungus's rotting-flesh stink then attracts flies, which get covered with the gleba so they can spread the spores elsewhere.
Thankfully, the fungus is smaller than it looks, with the tentacles only growing to 5-10 cm in length. If it weren't for the knockout odor, due in part of an accumulation of manganese in the fungus, you could probably pass within a few feet of a specimen and not even notice.
C. archeri is also purportedly edible in an emergency situation. I'll stick with portobellos for now, thanks.