Having seen some stunning photos of a bird’s nest fungus on twitter, I went for an optimistic search. Needless to say in vain, but I did find some other saprobic fungi growing on deadwood; these Dead Moll’s Fingers – Xylaria longipes. They are a slightly more slender species than the Dead Man’s Finger – Xylaria polymorpha – which is where the rather gruesome common name comes from.
They are subtly beautiful little fungi growing in aggregations on deadwood – hornbeam I think – along the Grantham Canal. They are called saprobic or saprophytic meaning they derive their nutrients from dead things – deadwood in this case. Deadwood is an incredibly important habitat for many fungi and invertebrates which depend upon it, and leaving it in situ, or in neatened piles if necessary, is a great way to boost the biodiversity of a habitat.
This little millipede was resting upon one of the broader specimens, growing on the side of a log. As I took the photograph, it began to slowly creep away, back into the cavity in the log from which the fruiting body of the fungus had sprung which only helped add to the sinister allusions of the dead moll’s fingers!