What’s the use of Xylaria?

Pretty much every time I give a talk on the ecology or taxonomy of Xylaria, I get the question “what are they good for?”, which breaks down into two other questions: “can you eat any of them?” and “do any of them have medicinal uses?”

I used to answer these questions by saying no, there aren’t any Xylaria that are eaten or used medicinally, but they are nonetheless interesting because of their ecology, their evolutionary history, and their diversity.

It turns out, I was mistaken on both counts!

Alan Bergo (left), and Anthony Michael Blowers both enjoy Xylaria polymorpha, the classic north temperate dead man’s fingers, with beef┬átartare.

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