A Local Surprise

While walking near Locale Market in downtown St. Pete last week, I was stopped in my tracks by something that stood out. I could not tell if it was organic or inorganic. This is what I saw:


I e-mailed my photographer friend Billy Stone and asked what this was as it is so unusual to find something that stands out from everything else and has qualities that you have never seen. Billy wrote back that it is a mushroom: 

"Clathrus crispus sometimes called the whiffle ball stink horn. Did you notice an odor? It is not poisonous but generally lives up to the name stink horn by emitting a foul or otherwise strange odor. I have been walking in the forest and caught a whiff of one of this guys cousins and followed the smell for quite a distance, just guessing but about 150 feet, and there it was. It must be fairly common in Florida, if you google "Clathrus crispus Florida" you will see what I mean."

To understand how incredulous I was, it might be helpful to know that making images which contain qualities of contradictions, such as organic and inorganic. Billy says that he is interested in these mushrooms because :

'most of the world could be destroyed and they will continue to thrive, that is one of the reasons that I spend so much time working to understand them, the apple is the fruit of the apple tree and it is about 50/50 above and below the surface of the earth. The mushroom is 95 percent below the ground and 5 percent above they only emerge to reproduce and only when the conditions are perfect because they arevery picky. They are also integral to the wellbeing of most of the plants on the earth as they form arrangements with plants to exchange minerals and exotic organic molecules like polysaccharides and water in exchange for sugars and other biologic commodities.  It is the real underground marketplace of life.'