This Creepy-Looking Fungus Known as "Dead Man's Fingers"

There’s a Facebook group called Mushroomcore, and it has nearly 30,000 members who share all kinds of cool photos and stories of fungi. However, some species continue to surprise even the biggest nature lovers. Like the Dead Man’s Fingers (Xylaria polymorpha).

Xylaria polymorpha  - Dead Man's Fingers

Xylaria polymorpha appears throughout the year at the base of beechwood stumps and occasionally on other buried hardwoods. Dead Man's Fingers is a very apt common name for this dull-looking species, which usually arises in tufts of three to six fingers that are often bent and give the impression of arthritic black knuckles.

Often appearing in palmate bunches, the stromata comprise white infertile finger-like forms with a black coating containing the flasks within which the asci (singular ascus) produce their spores. Known as 'flask fungi', these black compound fruitbodies are difficult to spot in dark woodlands.