[PHOTOS] Have You Seen “Dead Man’s Fingers” in New York?
Did you see a dead man's fingers poking out of the ground? No, you're not on an episode of Law & Order and you didn't just discover a body. The answer, however, is only a little less creepy.
Most of the time, New Yorkers enjoy nature by looking up. The gorgeous Catskill, Shawangunk, and Adirondack Mountains, the rolling forests, and beautiful wildlife all combine to make some of the most memorable views in the world. The weirdness starts if you decide to look down.
Xylaria polymorpha, also Known as Dead Man's Fingers
Xylaria polymorpha, AKA dead man's fingers, is a fungus that can be found growing in New York forests, especially near dead or rotting wood. The fungus gets its nickname for a very obvious reason: the shape (and location) of Xylaria polymorpha often gives the impression of a corpse's hand reaching out from under the ground.
Are Dead Man's Fingers Edible?
Other than the way it looks, there's another reason why Xylaria polymorpha should give you the creeps. While some foragers have reported eating the fungus and experiencing no side-effects, a report revealed something troubling:
All Xylaria contain amatoxin and phallotoxin, which are the same compounds you don't want eat in some of the most dangerous mushrooms in the world
Is it Too Early to Plan a Halloween Hike?
Xylaria polymorpha joins a long list of fascinating New York flora, and this Halloween, hikers could get in the spirit by crafting their own spooky outing. First, a forest hike to search for dead man's fingers, and then a visit to some New York wetlands to see the four carnivorous plants native to the Empire State.
If you need some inspiration for your next Hudson Valley, NY hike (with awesome abandoned ruins), get started with some suggestions below. Then keep scrolling to see the amazing hiking therapy animals of New York state that you might see along the way!