Candlesnuff Fungus

Candlesnuff Fungus ©Margaret Holland

Candlesnuff Fungus

Scientific name: Xylaria hypoxylon
The Candlesnuff Fungus is very common. It has an erect, stick-like or forked fruiting body with a black base and white, powdery tip. It grows on dead and rotting wood.

Species information

Statistics

Stem height: 1-6cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

January to December

About

The Candlesnuff Fungus, also known as the 'Stag's Horn', has an erect, simple or forked fruiting body with a downy stalk. It grows in groups on dead and rotting wood, and can be found on stumps and branches of all sorts of trees. Fungi belong to their own kingdom and get their nutrients and energy from organic matter, rather than photosynthesis like plants. It is often just the fruiting bodies, or 'mushrooms', that are visible to us, arising from an unseen network of tiny filaments called 'hyphae'. These fruiting bodies produce spores for reproduction, although fungi can also reproduce asexually by fragmentation.

How to identify

The fruiting body of the Candlesnuff Fungus is simple, erect and stick-like. It is black and hairy at the base of the stem and powdery white at the tip. The stem can become flattened and branched in a fork like an antler, hence the other name of 'Stag's Horn'.

Distribution

Widespread.

Did you know?

The Candlesnuff Fungus relies on dead wood, but the importance of this habitat for wildlife is often overlooked: to keep a place 'neat', mature and ageing trees may be removed and fallen dead wood cleared away. By keeping dead wood in your garden, you can encourage all kinds of fungi to grow, in turn, attracting the wildlife that depends upon it.

How people can help

Fungi play an important role within our ecosystems, helping to recycle nutrients from dead or decaying organic matter, and providing food and shelter for different animals. The Wildlife Trusts manage many nature reserves sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife, including fungi: you can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member. Our gardens are also a vital resource for wildlife, providing corridors of green space between open countryside. Try leaving log piles and dead wood to help fungi and the wildlife that depends on it. To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS.