Xylaria longipes: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Xylaria longipes Mushroom
Xylaria longipes is a species of fungus in the family Xylariaceae. The fruitbody is club-shaped or cylindrical, smooth or slightly downy, black and warty, narrowing slightly into brownish-black stem. When immature the growths are soft and pale grey with pinkish tips.
This mushroom appears throughout the year on beech and sycamore stumps and occasionally on other buried hardwoods. 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 small black compound fruitbodies are difficult to spot in dark woodlands.
Xylaria longipes is inedible, but a 2008 study concluded that the species could improve wood to make violins. Several chemicals have been derived from the fungus, including the antifungal xylaramide, the antioxidant tyrosol, and a derivative of the antifungal compound sordarin, a chemical first isolated from Sordaria araneosa.
Other names: Dead Moll's Fingers.
Xylaria longipes Identification
This fungus is known from Europe, Asia, and North America. It is a saprotroph, growing directly from dead wood from hardwoods, including both fallen branches and stumps. It causes soft rot in its host. In Europe, it favors the wood of sycamores, while collections in North America have favored the wood of maples and beeches. The species can grow singly or in groups and is more likely to grow singly than X polymorpha.
2.5–6.5 cm tall; 0.5–1.5 cm thick; shaped more or less like a club, with a rounded tip; grayish to brownish when young, becoming dark brown to black with maturity; surface often becoming cracked and scaly with maturity; stem often proportionally long, but also frequently short or nearly absent, black, covered with black to rusty brown or reddish fuzz near the base; interior flesh white and tough; perithecia in mature fruiting bodies up to about 1 mm across, spherical, just below the surface.
Spores 12–16 x 5–6 µm; fusiform or bean-shaped; smooth; brown and biguttulate in KOH and water; with a thin, pale, spiraling germ slit that runs the length of the spore. Asci 8-spored.
Xylaria polymorpha is similar but much larger and usually without a definite stalk.
Xylaria longipes Taxonomy & Etymology
This mushroom was first described by the German botanist and mycologist Theodor Rudolph Joseph Nitschke in the first volume of his Pyrenomycetes Germanici, published in 1867. He gave it the name by which it is currently known.
Xylaria is from the Latin xulon, meaning "wood", and aria, meaning "pertaining to", while longipes is from longus, meaning "long", and pes, meaning "foot". The specific name is about the long stem, which is one of the distinguishing features in contrast to Xylaria polymorpha (dead man's fingers).
In 1958, the English mycologist and plant pathologist R. W. G. Dennis coined the binomial Xylosphaera longipes, resurrecting the Belgian botanist and politician Barthélemy Charles Joseph Dumortier's 1822 genus Xylosphaera.
However, the mycological databases MycoBank and Index Fungorum reject Dennis's name, preferring Nitscke's.
The variety Xylaria longipes var. tropica was described from Mexico in 1989 by Felipe San Martín González and Jack D. Rogers; this is listed on Index Fungorum as synonymous with the nominate variety, but is listed as taxonomically independent on MycoBank.
Xylaria longipes profile
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