Antlers in the Woods

Two cool fungi that I’ve found in the woods this winter resemble small antlers poking out of the ground or wood. They are distinctive and easy to find if one looks actively for them.

Carbon Antlers (or Candlesnuff Fungus)

Carbon Antlers (Xylaria_hypoxylon)
Carbon Antlers (Xylaria hypoxylon) showing distinctive white forks that suggest antlers.

Carbon Antlers (Xylaria hypoxylon) is a small distinctive black fungus that is forked at the top suggesting antlers. The tips of the antlers are often white, giving it its other common name, Candlesnuff Fungus, since they also look like the wick of a snuffed candle. The white powdery tips are masses of asexual spores (conidia) that form directly on the hyphae rather than in asci. As the fungus matures, asci are produced inside flask-like perithecia at the top of the fruiting body. Carbon Antlers is typically found growing on rotting logs, stumps and buried sticks.

Carbon Antlers (Xylaria hypoxylon)
Carbon Antlers (Xylaria hypoxylon) is often found growing on dead, rotting wood.

Staghorn Jelly Fungus

Staghorn Jelly Fungus (Calocera viscosa)
Staghorn Jelly Fungus (Calocera viscosa) is a bright yellow jelly fungus that has a shape that suggests antlers.

Another fungus that has an antler like shape is the Staghorn Jelly Fungus (Calocera viscosa). It ranges in size from 2 – 7cm high and is also forked at its tips. The bright yellow to orange colour is distinctive and the fungus has a tough but somewhat gelatinous texture. It grows on logs, stumps, roots and other woody debris in association with with conifers. On a damp, gray fall or winter day, this bright jelly fungus is sure to delight!

If you’ve enjoyed this post, make sure to check out more writing about the small at Macro Monday.

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