Help Identify This Plant

I have pictures, but I’m going to have to wait 'til I get home to post them, so in the mean time I will try and describe them as best I can.

I’ve never seen these before, and they’re rather strange; they just started popping up on the grassy island/berm that separates my workplace’s driveway from next door’s.

They are solitary plants, sparsely populated along the berm in small patches of 3-4 per area, with a thin white stem of about 3-4 inches long that is exactly the same in appearance and brittle consistency as a bean sprout. Instead of a compact leafy sprout at the tip however, there is a narrow, oblong, brown mushroom-like cap. The cap, which is long and narrow like one of those mushrooms that doesn’t expose much of the underside of its cap to the elements, is extremely soft and pliable, owing presumably to the thin, sticky, membranous slime it appears to secrete. Opening the cap reveals wavy mushroom-like fins just as you would see on a mushroom.

I’m guessing this must be a mushroom of some sort, but I’ve never seen the like, not with such a sprout-like stem. Any ideas what it is?

Sounds like an Indian Pipe but I may be wrong. Here are some more.

  1. What’s your location?

  2. Are there any trees on this traffic island?

  3. How long are the caps in relation to the sprouts? We know the sprouts are about 3-4" long.

Did they look like these?

They are neither Indian Pipes nor the ones you posted, Jayjay, though the caps are similar - darker in colour, narrower, and overall much smaller. The stems are thinner, and as I said, have precisely the same look and consistency of bean sprouts, even down to the size and diameter – if you removed the cap you’d never know the difference. (I presume they probably taste different, but I’m not that brave without knowing more about what they are.)

Also, the cap definitely does not have the consistency of a mushroom. Those tend to be firm and break apart pretty easily. This was incredibly soft, slimy and sticky.

For what it’s worth, I’m in Southern Ontario (Brampton), there are no trees, just grass and weeds. These are in an area that sees a mower/trimmer every month or two during the summer months. The caps are about 1/4 to 1/6th the overall length of the sprout, but in general are quite small, perhaps as large as a thumbnail at most, though roughly 2/3rds to 1/2 the width. Some were smaller.

Did you notice any unusual odor?

Could they have possibly been stinkhorns? (Warning—the photo is huge, but it’s the best one I could find of something that sounds like it matches the OP’s description.)

Definitely not stinkhorns; the cap is too dark and the stem too large. There wasn’t actually much odor at all – an almost imperceptible musty smell common to mushrooms is about all, barely even detectable without putting it right up to your nostril.

I’ll try and take a few better pictures at lunch to see if I can get it in anything resembling focus; I have some shots already but they’re not the clearest. For some reason they defy clear photography even as the grass around them comes into sharp focus – like some kind of botanical bigfoot. But it’s probably just my crappy camera skills. :slight_smile:

Yeah, I was thinking you’re probably going to have to wait until you post a photo. I’m no fungus expert and don’t have a field guide, so I’ve been kind of shooting into the darkness based on my understanding of your description (an understanding that is obviously faulty, considering how many misses I’ve racked up in an hour’s time).

Outside guess of a horsetail fern. Or how about this one it’s a Gastrocybe lateritia. Don’t know the common name.

THAT’S the one – the second photo, with the filename “gastrocybes3” which Googles up the homepage of the image you linked to, calling it G. Lateria, which evidently doesn’t have a common name other than “bean sprout mushroom.”

Interesting read; these things are evidently quite short-lived.

Looks like it - less than 24 hrs. I suppose belonging to the mycological society can pay off…maybe I should reinstate my dues. :smiley: