Xylaria Hydroxylon

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Xylaria Hypoxylon, Vancouver Island, BC
Xylaria Hypoxylon, Vancouver Island, BC, photo by Robert Logan

Fruit bodies of the Xylaria Hypoxylon are usually flattened but sometimes cylindrical with dimensions of up to 8 cm in height. The erect fruiting bodies are often twisted or bent, and typically sparsely branched, often in a shape resembling a stag’s antlers. Specimens found earlier in the season, in spring, may be covered completely in asexual spores, which manifests itself as a white to grayish powdery deposit. Later in the season, mature Xylaria Hypoxylon is charcoal-black and have tiny pimple-like bumps called perithecia on the surface. These are tiny rounded spore-bearing structures with tiny holes for the release of sexual spores.

Although edible, the small size and tough texture of this fungus deter consumption. I would forgo eating them and just enjoy seeing their abstract looks, I think they are fascinating to observe.

This Xylaria species is usually more distinctly branched than is X. polymorpha and the stalks and branches are more slender. The black, pimply sexual stage of Xylaria hypoxylon typically occurs as unbranched stalks.

Xylaria Hypoxylon, Vancouver Island, BC
Xylaria Hypoxylon, Vancouver Island, BC, photo by Robert Logan

Mostly found on decaying hardwood stumps and logs, usually at or near the base; sometimes appearing terrestrial but actually attached to buried wood; growing alone or, more commonly in clusters. Look for them from spring until late summer or fall.

They are quite often referred to as dead man’s fingers. looking at these amazing fungi, one can see why they are called this.

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