Xylaria apiculata

Xylaria apiculata Cooke, from Reserva Los Cedros, Ecuador. Given the paucity of functional illustrations of this taxon, I wanted to create one of my own. This was the first Xylaria that I figured, back in 2012. While my illustration technique has certainly improved, I still remain proud of the functional beauty of this illustration. (scale bars: a = 2 mm; b = 1 mm (including stromatal section); c = 10 µm; d = 50 µm).

This is one of the more common of the tropical/subtropical Xylaria that one is likely to encounter, and represents the typical form for a large species complex that includes many similar taxa, largely distinguished from one another by microscopic characteristics of the ascospores. I’d like to spend some time considering this taxon, the history of its taxonomy, and the larger group of which it is a part. Members of the “Xylaria apiculata group” will typically have delicate stromata with a distinctly pointed (acute!) sterile apex (sterile, meaning that there are no perithecia) and an ectostromal layer, generally remaining well into maturity, which has been split into vertical striations by the expansion of the perithecia. Continue reading