The first native Australian fungus to be formally described, Aseroe rubra was collected in 1800 in southern Tasmania and named by the French botanist Jacques Labillardière. The scientific name is derived from the Ancient Greek words Asē/αση 'disgust' and roē/ροη 'juice', and the Latin ruber 'red'. It is a member of the stinkhorn family Phallaceae though has been placed by some mycologists in a separate family Clathraceae. Like them it bears its spores in a brownish slime which smells of feces or carrion and attracts flies, which spread the spores.
It begins as a partly buried whitish egg-shaped structure 3 cm (1 1⁄4 in) in diameter, which bursts open as a hollow white stalk with reddish arms erupts and grows to a height of 10 cm (3.9 in). It matures into a reddish star-shaped structure with six to ten arms up to 3.5 cm (11⁄2 in) long radiating from the central area. These arms are bifid (deeply divided into two limbs). The top of the fungus is covered with dark olive-brown slime or gleba, which smells of rotting meat. There is a cup-shaped volva at the base that is the remnants of the original egg.