Definitions for xylaria polymorpha
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dead-man's-fingers, dead-men's-fingers, Xylaria polymorpha(noun)
the fruiting bodies of the fungi of the genus Xylaria
Xylaria polymorpha, commonly known as dead man's fingers, is a saprobic fungus. It is a common inhabitant of forest and woodland areas, usually growing from the bases of rotting or injured tree stumps and decaying wood. It has also been known to colonize substrates like woody legume pods, petioles, and herbaceous stems. It is characterized by its elongated upright, clavate, or strap-like stromata poking up through the ground, much like fingers. The genus Xylaria contains about 100 species of cosmopolitan fungi. Polymorpha means “many forms.” As its name suggests, it has a very variable but often club-shaped fruiting body resembling burned wood. Often this fungus is found with a multitude of separate “digits” but at times the individual parts will be fused together. Belonging to the class of fungus known as Ascomycetes known as the sac fungi, they are characterized by a saclike structure, the ascus, which contains anything from four to eight ascospores in the sexual stage. The sac fungi are separated into subgroups based on whether asci arise singly or are borne in one of several types of fruiting structures, or ascocarps, and on the method of discharge of the ascospores. Many ascomycetes are plant pathogens, some are animal pathogens, a few are edible mushrooms, and many live on dead organic matter. The largest and most commonly known ascomycetes include the morel and the truffle, however the polymorpha is an inedible variety.
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"xylaria polymorpha." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2015. Web. 29 Nov. 2015. <http://www.definitions.net/definition/xylaria polymorpha>.