Xylaria hypoxylon

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Kingdom: Fungi Phylum: Ascomycota Synonyms: Xylosphaera hypoxylon Common name(s): Candlesnuff fungus Order: Xylariales Family: Xylariaceae

Xylaria hypoxylon

The candlestick fungus, species Xylaria hypoxylon (L.) Grev. Specimen located in East side of Bovec basin near the trail to Planina Golobar, East Julian Alps, Posocje, Slovenia. See Mushroom Observer site for more details about habitat.


Description and Significance

The scientific name of Xylaria hypoxylon was given to this ascomycetous fungus by Carl Linnaeus in 1753, Synonyms of Xylaria hypoxylon include Clavaria hypoxylon L., Sphaeria hypoxylon (L.) Pers. Sphaeria ramosa Dicks and Xylosphaera hypoxylon (L.) Dumort. Xylaria hypoxylon, commonly called the Candlesnuff Fungus is a fungus in the genus Xylaria. [1] The fruit bodies, characterized by erect, elongated black branches with whitened tips, typically grow in clusters on decaying hardwood. The fungus can cause a root rot in hawthorn and gooseberry plants. [2]

Structure, Metabolism, and Life Cycle

Their fruiting bodies are dark brown to black with antler-like white tips which blackens as ascospores within asci that develops flask like perithecia in the surface.. The small bumps are the locations of sexual spore production called perithecia. [3] The fungus specializes in consuming polysaccharide – glucan and other content compound of the timber that binds the cellulose and lignin together to form wood. This allows insects and other small creatures to feed on the remainder of the nutrient in the wood. Some of the fungus are simple spikes but mostly branch like antlers with a small stroma of 2 to 8mm in diameter at the base and 3 to 5cm tall. The base is the black and the tip the asexual is that of the white with conidia. [1]

Ecology and Pathogenesis

The fungi appears throughout the year but it is more noticeable during winter and autumn at this time, the whole fruiting body turns black and also habitat to gregarious to clustered on rotting wood. [1] X. hypoxylon also contains a carbohydrate-binding protein, a lectin, with a unique sugar specificity, and which has potent anti-tumor effects in various tumor cell lines, The pyrone derivative compounds named xylarone and 8,9-dehydroxylarone also have cytotoxic activity and several cytochalasins, compounds that bind to actin in muscle tissue, have been found in the fungus. [4]


[1]First Nature. Xylaria hypoxylon (L.) Grev. - Candlesnuff Fungus http://www.first-nature.com/fungi/xylaria-hypoxylon.php

[2]Horst RK, Westcott C. (2001). Westcott's plant disease handbook. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers. p. 533. ISBN 0-7923-8663-9.

[3]Gary Emberger, Messiah College 2008. Xylaria hypoxylon. http//:www.messiah.edu/Oakes/fungi_on_wood/club%20and%20coral/species%20pages/Xylaria%20hypoxylon.htm

[4] Qinghong Liua, Hexiang Wanga. First report of a xylose-specific lectin with potent hemagglutinating, antiproliferative and anti-mitogenic activities from a wild ascomycete mushroom. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304416506002091


Page authored by Abigail Somuah, student of Mandy Brosnahan, Instructor at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, MICB 3301/3303: Biology of Microorganisms.