The ‘Dead Man’s Fingers’ Fungus looks as creepy as it sounds

Just take a look at these enormous bats or these ferocious-looking “snakes” that were seen hiding in a tree to see how Mother Nature can genuinely surprise us in various ways.

Regan Daniels, a North Carolina native, posted a series of pictures on the Facebook group Mushroomcore of what appeared to be a deceased person’s toes. Her pictures rapidly went viral.

And it’s simple to understand why when you examine the photos more closely.

Not a Halloween display, not the ruins of some long-ago crime.


In June 2020, Regan Daniels was strolling in Western North Carolina when she came upon something that caused her to stop. She grabbed her camera and took images of the strange sight she saw, posting them to the Mushroomcore Facebook page.

The 30,000 participants in the group are accustomed to seeing breathtaking photos and astounding details from the forest, but Regan’s picture was unique. What then had she discovered?

Regan had, however, taken pictures of a fungus called Dead Man’s Fingers (Xylaria polymorpha). The Dead Man’s Fingers, so named because of their swollen, blackened “fingers” that reach skyward, strangely resemble someone buried beneath the forest floor, making a last-ditch effort to escape.

Regan posted, “I literally thought this Dead Man’s Fingers (or toes, in this case) fungus was a Halloween decoration!”

Despite having a remarkable and distinctive appearance, this fungus is actually rather common and year-round. These mushrooms are found in many parts of North America, continental Europe, Britain, and Ireland. Therefore, if you are vigilant, it’s not impossible to spot swollen, warty “fingers.”

Look on the stumps or buried deadwood of broadleaved trees, particularly beech, if you wish to find them.Only dead or dying wood is infected by the fungus, which explains why Dead Man’s Fingers frequently appear via rotting leaves and moss.

The eerie clusters of Xylaria polymorpha were discovered by Regan Daniels while visiting a park in North Carolina.

A clump of similar-looking mushrooms surrounded them as they emerged from the stump. Some people thought the pictures were too bizarre and quickly dismissed them as false. Still, there are plenty of striking images of the mushrooms online, proving that they are real.

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

Reagan saw other examples that appeared to be in excellent condition, despite the fact that she was strolling through a busy area. That may not come as a surprise, though, as few people might pick it because they think it’s poisonous or dangerous.

And would you ever think to taste a fungus that looked like the toes of a dead man?

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