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Xylaria cubensis

[ Ascomycota > Sordariomycetes > Xylariales > Xylariaceae > Xylaria . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

This club-shaped species of Xylaria is common in the southeastern states, the lower Appalachians, and in the tropics, but rare or absent elsewhere in North America. It grows directly from the wood of decaying hardwood logs, and features a coppery brown surface (before it eventually turns black). Under the microscope it has fairly small spores that lack the "germ slits" common to many other Xylaria species.

The "anamorph," or asexual stage, of Xylaria cubensis looks quite a bit different from its sexual stage. Though the anamorph was recognized previously by some as a separate species, "Xylocoremium flabelliforme," current taxonomic rules require sexual and asexual stages to be treated as one taxonomic entity. The anamorph appears in winter, spring, and early summer, and looks a bit like soggy cotton candy on a tiny stick.

Thanks to Fluff Berger for collecting, documenting, and preserving Xylaria cubensis for study; her collection is deposited in The Herbarium of Michael Kuo.


Ecology: Saprobic on decaying hardwood logs, growing directly from the wood; growing alone or gregariously; causing a soft rot; spring through fall (or over winter in warm climates); originally described, as the species name suggests, from Cuba—but common throughout tropical and subtropical areas, the southeastern United States, and the Appalachian Mountains; absent in western and northern North America. The illustrated and described collections are from North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

Fruiting Body: 2–8 cm tall; 0.5–1.5 cm across; shaped more or less like a club, with a rounded tip; surface coppery brown, becoming blackish with maturity; becoming minutely pimpled and shallowly wrinkled with maturity, but not developing deep fissures and cracks; pseudostem short or almost nonexistent.

Anamorph (see discussion above): 0.5–2.5 cm high; up to 1 cm wide; at first narrowly club-shaped with a black to whitish surface; apex becoming expanded into a tightly to loosely lobed crown with a finely granular, white to pinkish or pale orange surface; base swollen where attached to the wood, covered with fine black fuzz.

Microscopic Features: Spores 9–11 x 4–5.5 µm; ellipsoid, with a somewhat flattened side, or widely fusiform; lacking germ slits; smooth; very dark brown in KOH; walls 0.5–1 µm thick.

REFERENCES: (Montagne, 1840) Fries, 1851. (Saccardo, 1882; Rogers, 1984; Rogers, 1986; Rogers, Miller & Vasilyeva, 2008; Kuo & Methven, 2010; Beug et al., 2014; Woehrel & Light, 2017; Elliott & Stephenson, 2018.) Herb. Kuo 03100702, 06091802.

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Xylaria cubensis

Xylaria cubensis

Xylaria cubensis

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Kuo, M. (2018, July). Xylaria cubensis. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: