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Dead Man’s Fingers

Tuffy P was out at a gathering today on a property that has a forest. Now Tuffy rarely goes out mushroom foraging, but she has an eagle eye and if there is something interesting to see in the woods, she’ll find it. Last season, for instance, we went for a walk in a suburban forest and Tuffy P spotted a nice clump of Bear’s Head Tooth growing on a beech tree. Today she found something very interesting and took a photo to show me.

Dead Man's Fingers?

Dead Man’s Fingers?

She saw these unusual growths coming from the base of a stump. My first guess is that these strange little items are the fungi known as Dead Man’s Fingers – Xylaria polymorpha

Dead Man’s Fingers are a saprobic fungus, meaning they get their nourishment from non-living organic matter – in this case from a dead or dying tree. Although I spend plenty of time wandering about forests looking for mushrooms, I’ve never come across dead man’s fingers in the woods. I did see some samples once though, collected by someone else during an outing with a mushroom class.

I was out in a forest today too. While Tuffy P was up in the Kawarthas, I took the dogs to a woods not too far outside the city for a little scouting mission. This forest fruits edible boletes, as well as lobster mushrooms and a few chanterelles. I thought with all the rain we’ve had there was an outside chance of finding some early lobster mushrooms or some early summer boletes. All I found though, was one bolete that was sadly way way past its expiry date.  Hypothetically, we should expect to see some interesting edibles in our forests over the next few weeks. I say hypothetically, because everyone knows there are no edible mushrooms in Southern Ontario.

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