Can you identify this black chile-looking thing?

yardvaarkJanuary 27, 2014

I cross posted on the Florida Forum as that's where I'm located. Wondering if anyone can identify this odd looking "weed." I came across a small "nest" of them (4" x 10"), each spaced about 1 1/2 to 2" apart. The two larger one's in the picture illustrate the above-ground portion. I didn't dig down to trace and explore their roots. (This is growing in a perennial peanut bed.) I monitor for weeds regularly and haven't seen this until now. It doesn't stick up above the peanut foliage, so might have been developing over the last month. It is dry, woody and black. The insides are white with a mushroom-flesh-looking texture, but hard and woody. Anyone recognize it?

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With time to do a little more searching, I find that it is in fact a fungus, Xylaria polymorpha, with the common name, "dead man's fingers." So appropriate! ... they looking like ancient mummy fingers. Apparently, it feeds on subterranean dead wood which makes sense here as there is a line of holly stumps from an old hedge in the vicinity. This means that it is entirely harmless to my landscaping purposes ... what I was concerned about, fearing any difficult weed infiltration or infestation. While it looks fungi-like, its hard woodiness made it seem nothing like any of the ordinary fungi that crop up in a typical yard. It has a pronounced mild, but strange scent. That, coupled with its appearance makes is seem like something that would be finely ground and put in a genuine witch's brew! Apparently, since it is black, I am catching it in its late stage. I read that in its earlier stage it can be some variation of bluish-greyish-green. In general, I comb the area where it is, looking for the tiniest of weeds, many times on hands and knees, so it has remained well hidden, apparently, for some length of time.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 2:40PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Good job with the research.
And thanks for letting us know what you learned.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 11:38PM
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De nada. :-)

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 10:17PM
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