Xylaria polymorpha (Pers.) Grev., 1824 (syn: Hypoxylon polymorphum (Pers.) Mont., 1840; Hypoxylon polymorphum var. mammillanum Gray, 1821 ..; Sphaeria digitata Sowerby, 1797; Sphaeria polymorpha Pers., 1797 .; Sphaeria spathulata Pers., 1799; Xylaria corrugata Har. & Pat., 1903; Xylaria fastigiata (Speg.) Mussat, 1901; Xylaria pachystroma (Sacc.) Mussat, 1901; Xylaria polymorpha var. acrodactyla Nitschke, 1867 …………; Xylaria rugosa Sacc., 1906; Xylosphaera polymorpha (Pers.) Dumort., 1822);         
dead man’s fingers;
Xylaria hypoxylon produce antler-shaped structures (0.03 – 0.05 cm dia) but X. polymorpha produces irregularly club-shaped structures about 1-3cm in diameter.

Xylaria polymorpha, commonly known as dead man’s fingers, is a saprobic fungus.

It is a common inhabitant of forest and woodland areas, usually growing from the bases of rotting or injured tree stumps and decaying wood. It has also been known to colonize substrates like woody legume pods, petioles, and herbaceous stems.
It is characterized by its elongated upright, clavate, or strap-like stromata poking up through the ground, much like fingers. The genus Xylaria contains about 100 species of cosmopolitan fungi. Polymorpha means “many forms.” As its name suggests, it has a very variable but often club-shaped fruiting body (stroma) resembling burned wood.
Often this fungus is found with a multitude of separate “digits” but at times the individual parts will be fused together.
Belonging to the class of fungus known as Ascomycetes (division Mycota) known as the sac fungi, they are characterized by a saclike structure, the ascus, which contains anything from four to eight ascospores in the sexual stage. The sac fungi are separated into subgroups based on whether asci arise singly or are borne in one of several types of fruiting structures, or ascocarps, and on the method of discharge of the ascospores. Many ascomycetes are plant pathogens, some are animal pathogens, a few are edible mushrooms, and many live on dead organic matter (as saprobes). The largest and most commonly known ascomycetes include the morel and the truffle, however the polymorpha is an inedible variety.
The dark fruiting body (often black or brown, but sometimes shades of blue/green) is surprisingly white on the inside, with a blackened dotted area all around. This blackened surrounding area is made up of tiny structures called perithecia. The perithecia hold a layer of asci which contain the ascospores. The asci elongate into the ostiole, and discharge the ascospores outward. The spore distribution is a lengthy process, sometimes taking several months to complete this part of the life cycle, this is not a common trait amongst fungi, as is normally a much swifter process.
In spring time this fungus often produces a layer of white or bluish asexual spores called conidia, which grow on its surface and surrounding area 
(From Wikipedia on 2.8.13)



Fungi for id?1 correct image. 4 posts by 3 authors.
Request id of these two fungi taken in Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), Mumbai this morning (4.8.13)?

#1110987 – appears to be Xylaria genus or Dean Man’s Fingers. Found on a dead tree stump. 

Xylaria species in efi 

Xylaria polymorpha and
2 pictures for you : 2 posts by 2 authors. 1 correct image.

These Fungus picture I took on May 11, 2010., during Nature camp to the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve – Bandipur , near Gopala Swamy Temple – Reserve.
….. I think Second picture also some kind of Fungus.
Please give ID

Seems to be …. and Xylaria polymopha.



Monsoon 2011| Fungi from Talacauvery| 29Aug11AR02:  Habitat: on an erect tree bark, probably dead portion. // Stephen King’s horror bank!

27 Jul 2011
Talacauvery, Coorg

This looks like Xylaria sp. (Pyrenomycetes). Did you notice the size of the fruiting bodies and any other features.

Size of the fruiting body -upto 6cms, granite black color, tiny white spots – iridescent. 
I think the fruit bodies are flask-shaped.

Abundance – 30 nos. 
Dead stump picture taken from 9 meters distant. 
Thick vegetation, darkness, slope/elevation & the leeches prevented us reaching the tree. So no closeup picture.
It appears, these fungi closely relates to Dead Man’s Fingers fungus or the Candle-snuff Fungus
// In Bhagamandala, we colligated this black fungi to black leech sticks, very well disguised in the darkness of the tree bark. Add to it the dark woods behind. Imagine- we go close to the tree, the leech stick come alive & rain on us…

Appears close to images at Xylaria polymorpha (Pers.) Grev.