Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Candle

Walking through the decidedly soggy Pewit Carr this morning, I was just saying we hadn't seen many fungi this autumn, when, as is so often the case. we stumbled upon a few growing among the rotting woodland floor. Usually, fungi, when they become visible above ground, take the form of the small, fleshy parasols so well known to us all. These however, were very different and took the form of matchstick-sized, slightly powdery spikes, sticking up from a piece of dead wood.
They turned out to be Xylaria hypoxylon otherwise and variously known as Candlestick Fungus, Candle Snuff Fungus, Carbon Antlers or Stag's Horn Fungus.
At about 2 inches in length, they can be seen all year round, but are more frequently seen in autumn when the undergrowth around has died back to expose them.
Starting off with a powdery coating of asexual spores or conidia. Later in the season, these fruiting bodies blacken as they mature, before producing sexual spores.
Candle Snuff Fungus is not poisonous, but their tough texture and small size, render them not worth while consuming.  They do however, contain a couple of compounds called  xylarial A and B which act on the cells of liver cancer and could therefore have some benefit in the treatment of Hepatocellular carcinoma.
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