An elegant stinkhorn grows in Arlington, Va. (PHOTOS)

Spotted these unfortunate-looking guys over the weekend sprouting in Lyon Park in Arlington. As red as scalded flesh with caps of oozing, brown slime, they were not the prettiest mushrooms I've seen growing up in Northern Virginia. It seems like the rain has been acting like Miracle-Gro for these things... I also spotted a few along Lee Highway in Lyon Village, and ABC7 meteorologist Steve Rudin caught a glimpse of others recently.

What are these terrible growths?

All signs point to Elegant Stinkhorns, or Mutinus elegans, a "mushroom you will probably smell before you see," according to an educational brief by the Fairfax County Public Schools. The stinkhorns emit a "strong, unpleasant odor, similar to rotting meat," and they depend on insects to grow. Sure enough, the reeking fungi were completely covered with flies, basking in the slime and carrying little stinkhorn spores to new locations.

The 'horns have their prime from July to September, meaning catch them now if you really want to have a gander, or whiff, of these amazing fungi. You can eat them, too, if anybody's craving some stinky pasta with mushrooms. Says FCPS:

This fungus can be annoying because of its offensive smell. It is actually edible, though most people do not desire to eat it.

Here's a different view of the stank:{ }