It’s like something out of a horror movie

This terrifying-looking fungi, known as devil’s fingers or octopus stinkhorn, was spotted in Fairwarp near Crowborough.

Photo courtesy Sam Ellis

The fungi are native to New Zealand and Australia and made their way over to Europe in 1914, believed to have been introduced through military supplies during the start of the First World War.  It was first spotted in Cornwall, gradually spreading to other southern counties in the UK.

It was seen growing at Brickfield Meadow nature reserve on the edge of Fairwarp village, and is the first time this exotic species had been recorded on a Sussex Wildlife Trust nature reserve.

While most fungi emerge from the earth or deadwood, the devil’s fingers hatches from a slimy, gelatinous ‘egg’.  As the fungi grows, the tentacle-like arms start to protrude eventually reaching a length of 5 to 10 centimetres.

The arms of the alien fungus are covered in a brown foul-smelling goo.  The stench they emit is truly horrible, akin to rotting flesh, but it attracts flies that help to disperse the fungi’s spores.

The Brickfield Meadow Nature Reserve is an unimproved meadow on the edge of the Ashdown Forest in the village of Fairwarp.

If you spot this amazing fungus in Sussex, please let the Sussex Wildlife Trust know using their Species Recording Form.

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