Like other stinkhorns, Clathrus columnatus arises from a partially submerged "egg" that is attached to the ground with long cords. There is no stem; two to five hollow "arms" reach upwards, out of the egg, and join at the top--almost like columns that are prepared to hold something aloft. The inner surfaces of the arms are covered with stinkhorn slime, which has a foul odor and attracts flies; this is the mushroom's method for dispersing spores.
Saprobic; growing alone or gregariously; often near woody debris (and apparently sometimes growing right out of the sides of living trees, as is evidenced by Ruby Bayan's photo in the right-hand column!); in lawns, gardens, cultivated soil, and so on; from North Carolina to the Gulf coast, and in Mexico (reported as far north as New York); October through March.