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The mushroom kingdom is diverse and amazing specimens can be found in it. Long-legged xilaria is an unusual and frightening mushroom, it is not for nothing that people call it “dead man's fingers”. But there is nothing mystical about it: the original elongated shape and dark color with light tips resemble a human hand sticking out of the ground.
What long-legged xilariae look like
Another name for this species is polymorphic. The body does not have an obvious division into a leg and a cap. It can reach a height of 8 cm, but usually it grows small - up to 3 cm. In diameter it does not exceed 2 cm, the body is formed narrow and elongated.
It has a clavate shape with a slight thickening in the upper part, it can be mistaken for a tree twig. Young specimens are light gray; with age, the color darkens and turns completely black. Small outgrowths on the ground are difficult to see.
Over time, the surface of the fruiting body also changes. It scales and cracks. The spores are small, fusiform.
Another type of xilaria is distinguished - diverse. It differs in that from one fruiting body several processes depart at once, hard to the touch and rough, resembling wood. The inside of the pulp is made of fibers and is colored white. It is tough enough that it is not eaten.
The young fruiting body is covered with asexual spores of purple, gray or light blue color. Only the tips remain free from spores, which retain their whitish color.
The upper part of the fruiting body is slightly lighter in adulthood. Long-legged xilaria can eventually become covered with warts. Small holes appear in the cap for ejection of spores.
Where long-legged xilariae grow
It belongs to saprophytes, therefore it grows on stumps, logs, rotten deciduous trees, branches. Representatives of this species are especially fond of maple and beech fragments.
Long-legged xilariae grow in groups, but there are also single specimens. This type of fungus can cause gray rot in plants. In the Russian climate, it grows actively from May to November. It appears in forests, less often on forest edges.
The first descriptions of long-legged xilaria are found in 1797. Before that, there was a single mention that the parishioners of one English church found terrible mushrooms in the cemetery. They looked like the fingers of the dead, black and twisted, were climbing out of the ground. Mushroom shoots were everywhere - on stumps, trees, the ground. Such a sight frightened people so much that they refused to enter the cemetery.
The churchyard was soon closed and abandoned. Such a spectacle is easy to explain scientifically. Long-legged xilaria actively grows on stumps, rotten and shabby wood. It can form at the roots of deciduous trees. They are found all over the world. In some regions, the first long-legged xilariae appear in early spring.
Is it possible to eat long-legged xilariae
Long-legged xilaria is an inedible species. Even after long cooking, the pulp is very tough and difficult to chew.
Mushrooms of this species do not differ in any taste or smell. During cooking, they attract insects - this must be taken into account if you want to experiment.
In traditional medicine, a substance is isolated from xilaria that is used to create diuretics. Scientists plan to use these fruiting bodies to develop drugs for oncology.
Long-legged xilaria has an unusual color and shape. At dusk, mushroom shoots can be mistaken for tree branches or gnarled fingers. This species is not considered poisonous, but it is not used for food. In nature, these representatives of the mushroom kingdom perform a special function: they accelerate the process of decay of trees and stumps.