Candlesnuff Fungus – Xylaria hypoxylon

Fungi of the Week

24th April 2020 | Info

Common name:Candlesnuff Fungus 

Scientific name:Xylaria hypoxylon 

Introduction:The Candlesnuff Fungus (Xylaria hypoxylon) is a UK-native, bioluminescent fungus that contains anti-viral properties and compounds. They are a pyrenomycete and are saprobic on the deadwood of many broadleaf trees.  

Identification

Fruiting-body:Typically, the Small stick-like stromas are less than 10mm in diameter and up to 5cm tall. Their fork-like forms are black when young and are covered in fine hairs towards their base, becoming whiter towards the tip where their conidia are housed. This helps to give them the appearance of a put-out candlewick. As the fruiting-body matures, they tend to become entirely black due to their ascospores ripening. You will also find that upper sections of the fruiting body can be bumpy and covered in microscopic holes. 

Spores: The Candlesnuff fungus produces both asexual and sexual spores throughout the year, giving themselves two chances to reproduce. The spores are black in colour, smooth and have a bean-like shape. 

Flesh:Tough.  

Habitat

The Candlesnuff fungus, which forms all-year-round, favours the stumps and fallen branches of broadleaf trees and mosses.  

[Fruitingbodies of Candlesnuff Fungi on a fallen branch]

Impact on Trees

As one of the last to attack fungi, the Candlesnuff Fungus is saprobic and lives off deadwood from the stumps or fallen branches of broadleaf trees. Unlike most fungi, they specialise in consuming the polysaccharides of timber (what holds wood together). This then leaves behind nutrient-rich organic matter that provides a food source for many insects and small animals (if it hasn’t already been taken over by other fungi such as the Honey Fungus or Sulphur Tuft).  

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