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The ‘Dead Man’s Fingers’ Looks As Creepy As It Sounds

Off The Record

The ‘Dead Man’s Fingers’ Looks As Creepy As It Sounds

North Carolina resident Regan Daniels’ photos of what looked like a dead person’s toes went viral after she posted them in the Mushroomcore Facebook group.

It’s clear why, too, after you zoom in on the images.

Nothing from a crime scene or a Halloween decoration.

In June of 2020, while strolling around Western North Carolina, Regan Daniels came across something that caused her to stop in her tracks.

She pulled out her camera and snapped some photos of the odd sight, later sharing them in a Mushroomcore Facebook group.

Though the group’s thirty thousand members are accustomed to viewing breathtaking photos and astonishing details of the forest, Regan’s shot stood out. What did she find, then?

It’s a polymorphic Xylaria. The Dead Man’s Fingers are well named; their bulging, blackened “fingers” reaching towards the sky evoke the image of a buried human being making one last, futile struggle to break free.

“Saw this Dead Man’s Fingers (or toes in this case) fungus that I literally thought was a Halloween decoration!,” Regan wrote in her post. 

While this fungus certainly stands out due to its remarkable and distinctive appearance, it is actually rather widespread and may be seen at any time of year.

The United Kingdom, Ireland, continental Europe, and several parts of North America all have large populations of these mushrooms.

As a result, if you look carefully, you can find a ‘finger’ that is bloated and covered in warts.

Find them on the buried deadwood or rotting stumps of broadleaf trees, especially beech. Dead Man’s Fingers can be easily spotted popping up through moss and rotting leaves because the fungus only colonizes decaying or dead wood.

First-Nature claims that this fungus is not suitable for human consumption.

Regan Daniels discovered some Xylaria polymorpha colonies in a park she frequently visits in North Carolina, and they gave her the creeps.

They were sprouting from a stump with a group of similar mushrooms. Some people immediately assumed the pictures were phony because they seemed too fantastical.

The mushrooms, however, are not a hoax, and many fascinating images of them can be found on the internet.

“I found the mushroom in Western North Carolina in the United States at a park that I frequent,” Regan told Bored Panda and added, “The walk is nice [and] it’s next to the French Broad River so there’s a lot of good scenery.”

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Even though Reagan was walking on a rather busy area, the samples she saw appeared to be in pristine condition.

It’s not entirely unexpected, though, given that few would risk picking it if they thought it was poisonous.

What about eating a fungus that looks like a dead man’s toes?

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