There was supposed to be a thunderstorm last week so stewardship was cancelled even though the storm never materialized. While looking at my pictures from previous years, I found these which I took last year at the Beechwood Wetland site. I found them interesting at the time but I had forgotten about them. It's a good example of some of the weird stuff you can find in nature.
Look at the base of the tree stump. No, it's not a present left by some animal.
Here's a closer look. Can you start to see a shape?
Can you guess what it is?
It's called Dead Man's fingers. I'm not kidding. And no, we didn't find a dead body. Believe it or not, it's a fungus commonly found in forests and woodlands that grows at the base of rotten tree stumps. As you can see, it is appropriately named, though its latin name is Xylaria polymorpha.
It grows on decaying hardwood stumps and logs, usually at or near the base. It sometimes appears to come out of the ground but it is actually attached to buried wood and it grows alone or, more commonly in clusters, like the pictures you see here.
It's a bit creepy but fascinating at the same time.