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I believe that both species have overlapping features which requires microscopic examination to be sure but someone more experienced might be able to tell.
Chris Brooks - www.dragonfly-images.co.uk
My Flickr site - www.flickr.com/photos/ceb1298
They do overlap but I think this are much more likely to be X longipes (Dead Molls)
so if it's a tight cluster of short fat ones should it still be identified only to genus?
Also what magnification is needed to look at the spores of this fungus?
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To be honest with something as common as this I would accept an identification of a fat finger as X polymorpha and a thin finger as X longipes because it is not going to send ripples of excitement through mycology if we get it wrong. In your second photo there is a very slim example so X longipes would get my vote. As Chris says a medium size fruit body could be either.
The spores of X longipes are 12-16 microns long those of X polymorpha are 20-32 long so although quite different still need serious magnification to split them.
I've collected a finger with a hole at the top hoping all I had to do was turn it up and tap it onto a slide and spores would come out. I've looked at some of the dust at 1000x (without oil) and got a picture of something but I'm not sure if I'm looking at spores or not. Perhaps there's a better way of separating the spores from the fruit body for inspection?
As these are Ascomycetes the spores are contained in a flask, the Ascus. Each flask contains 8 spores and are grouped together in an oval container (the perithecium) which can be seen just under the flesh between the black outer surface and the white inner flesh. To collect the spores just lay the fruit body on a slide and cover with a glass overnight. You should, if you are lucky have a spore deposit in the morning.
So can you have both species living in the same piece of wood? I cant see why not, obviously not sharing the same space, but so as to produce fruitbodies in close proximity of each other.
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X longipes prefers dead sycamore but can be found on other broad-leaf trees. X polymorpha prefers beech but again can be found on other b-l trees. It would seem possible for them to grow on the same log but I think the strongest would take control and block out the other.
On heart wood of sawn logs you often see black lines running the length of the wood and these are the "demarcation" lines of different fungi in the tree.
Lat/Lng: 51.9045, -2.5755
OS grid ref: SO605230
Herefordshire Wildlife Trust woodland. Found below Cherry/Ash/Sycamore canopy