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Pimpled Flasks - Sordariomycetes p.p. ("Pyrenomycetes")

Mushrooms in this class may resemble the clubs growing out of wood, other mushrooms or even insects! They may also resemble the crusts growing flat on wood or other mushrooms, either as a hard crust or a soft spongy mold. But unlike the clubs and crusts on other pages, these are often covered with pimples (which may be difficult to see) because the spores only grow in clusters inside each pimple, but nowhere else. Any crust growing on another mushroom, or anything growing on an insect should be looked for here.

Many of the mushrooms on this page have an asexual (anamorph) stage, where they produce spores that simply clone themselves, as well as the usual sexual (teleomorph) stage of reproduction. They usually look quite different at this point in their life cycle, such that you often cannot tell they are the same species without DNA sequencing. Not surprisingly, these mushrooms have been given two names, but it has been argued that now that we know they are both the same species, they should only have one name. The fight over which name to use is still ongoing, but in many cases it is thought that the teleomorph name will win, so I will usually give the teleomorph names on this page, even though the pictures may show the anamorph stage if that is much more common.

Syzygospora effibulata - urelated "basidio", a waxy film that coats galls on Gymnopus dryophilus.

Key to Flasks:




Xylariales - this group contains very dark crusts and clubs on wood, with very interesting looking black spores.

Daldinia - spherical to hemispherical vinaceous to rusty black "carbon balls" on hardwood. Nobody can decide if that makes them a crust or a club. Inside are brilliant alternating white and black layers when fresh. Usually <5cm. Also called King Alfred's cakes after a legend that they resemble cakes that burned when the king fell asleep, or cramp balls due to their supposed ability to relieve leg cramps if you carry them around.

Daldinia grandis/childiae ('concentrica') - D. grandis is usually shinier with purple tints.


Xylaria - club (or coral!) shaped black mushrooms, sometimes dusted with white asexual spores on top and white inside, usually found on hardwood.

X. hypoxylon grp - "carbon antlers" on wood, <5cm tall, a few mm thick.

X. cornu-damae is less branched, but thinner than X. atropictor np.

X. multiplex is slightly smaller.

X. filiformis - thread-like thin on herb and fern stems.

X. atropictor n.p. (X. 'polymorpha' grp) - 1-3cm thick fingers with a narrower base. Paints the alder and maple wood it inhabits black. It's asexual state is a greenish-grey brainy blob.

X. bulbosa - yellowish interior, with a felty reddish base.

Hypoxylon s.l. - pimpled crusts or large bumps usually on wood but rarely on polypores, red to vinaceous to grey to black. Hypocrea species are usually brighter and made up of much smaller bumps, or are not on wood.

Kretzschmaria deusta - white to grey crusts turning black, barely pimpled. Various hardwoods. <10cm each. Fairly flat.

Hypoxylon fuscum - red bumps, blunt pimples, on hardwoods, usually <1cm.

H. howeanum - larger more spherical red bumps, tiny subtle pimples.

H. rubiginosum - a red crust, flat rather than lumpy.

Jackrogersella multiformis/Annulohypoxylon thouarsianum - violaceous to black bumps/hemispheres on birch/oak, <5cm. More prominent pimples than Daldinia.

Biscogniauxia mediterranea/repanda/bartholomaei - a black crust, flat not lumpy, with both fungal and wood tissue mixed in the crust. Usually on oak/mountain-ash/alder.

Bertia - .5mm black pustules growing in clusters on hardwood. In the order Coronophorales.

Nectriopsis - (below) purple.

Nemania serpens - a black crust with eroded channels running through the surface. Usually on hardwood or polypores.

Lasiosphaeria ovina - individual hard crusty white pimples <1mm on hardwood, harder than the similar Hypocrea spp. which are usually fleshier and have multiple pimples per tiny fruit body. (Sordariales order)

Rosellinia - black instead of white.


Apiosporina morbosa - black knot of cherry - a black crust surrounding branches of cherry and plum trees. Not pimpled, and in a different class than any other mushroom on these pages - the Dothideomycetes. Many related fungi probably occur here but have never been studied!


Hypocreales - clubs, crusts and molds found on wood, plants, other mushrooms or insects. It may be of interest that Stachybotrys, the toxic black mold is in this order.

Cordyceps s.l. - some of the most fascinating fungi on the planet, these clubs with a differentiated pimpled head parasitize Elaphomyces truffles and insects! Some of them are known as "zombie fungus" because they are known to "takeover the brain" of ants and alter their behaviour to make them travel uphill to better habitat for the mushroom. Then the ant will die and the mushroom will sprout out of its head. Usually around 5cm tall.

Tolypocladium capitatum (Elaphocordyceps capitata) - yellow- to red-brown round head on Elaphomyces truffle.

Tolypocladium (Elaphocordyceps) ophioglossoides - orange turning black, head not as round on Elaphomyces. Yellow rhizomorphs around the base!

Cordyceps militaris - orange elongated head on pupae of moths and butterflies.

C. washingtonensis - yellow on lepidoptera pupae

Ophiocordyceps gracilis - orange spherical head on caterpillars.

O. myrmecophila - orange spherical head, thinner stem, on ants.

Tolypocladium inflatum (Elaphocordyceps subsessilis) - irregular white pimpled spheres, perhaps with short irregular "stalks", growing from beetles buried in wood. This is the source of cyclosporine, the immuno-suppressor!

Hypocrea leucopus, below, is a yellow pimpled club and grows on the ground or wood.

The following are actually Cordyceps species, but they are most commonly found in their asexual stages, which currently have different names. They will probably all be renamed to Cordyceps something-or-other.

Beauveria bassiana - many related fungi parasitize insects appearing as molds covering their bodies or with many strange projections.

Akanthomyces aculeatus - I find this on dead moths on cave ceilings.

Isaria farinosa - colourful structures with irregularly ovoid white heads on various insects.

Claviceps - Called "ergot" or "St. Anthony's Fire", this is the source of LSD, and some have even blamed the Salem witch trials on colonists who had eaten it.

Claviceps purpurea - parasitizes rye and other grasses. Starts as dark purplish crusty sclerotia (shown), and the next year will sprout tiny Cordyceps myrmecophila-like clubs with round, orange pimpled heads, only a few mm tall.

Hypocrea etc. - includes one Cordyceps-like club or more typically small, round pustules on wood or polypores covered in pimples. Very similar to Hypomyces, which are usually a crust embedded with pimples on mushrooms, and to Hypoxylon which are crusts or large bumps on wood and usually black.

H. (Podostroma) leucopus - Cordyceps-like club with yellow elongated head growing from the ground. <2.5cm high.

H. alutacea - similar, on wood. Less sharply defined head.

H. pulvinata - hard crusty yellow pimply spheres on polypores, <5cm.

Hypoxylon are similar but darker on wood.

H. strictipilosa grp - fleshier tiny pimply spheres <4mm on wood. There are many similar spp.

Trichoderma sp. - name of the asexual stage of Hypocrea, often a non-pimpled fuzzy mold, that appears to turn blue-green when the white surface is scratched. On wood.

Nectria dematiosa ('cinnabarina') - <0.5mm each, red pimpled spheres on hardwood. Asexual stage is a smooth pink cushion.

Neonectria fuckeliana - similar, less bright, on conifer wood.

Hydropisphaera/Calonectria - individual tiny tangerine spheres on wood or polypores.

Hypocrea lixii - ~1mm pustules on wood or polypores with a dark green tint.

Lasiosphaeria ovina - individual hard crusty white pimples <1mm on hardwood, harder than the similar Hypocrea spp. which are usually fleshier and have multiple pimples per tiny fruit body. (Sordariales order)

Rosellinia - black instead of white.

Some species of Hypocrea and Nectriopsis resemble crusts or molds and are described next under Hypomyces.

Hypomyces etc. - hard crusts or spongy molds growing parasitically on other mushrooms, embedded with pimples. Many of these species are more commonly found in their anamorph (asexual) stage. Hypocrea is similar, but instead of an entire crust, there are individual pustules covered in pimples.

H. chrysospermus/microspermus - Anamorph: white then yellow mold on boletes. Teleomorph: red (rare)

H. lactifluorum - orange crust on Russula brevipes grp. This mold improves the texture and taste.

H. lateritius - white crust erases the gills of Lactarius. (anamorph)

H. luteovirens - yellow-green crust on Russula.

H. cervinigenus - white to salmon pink mold on Helvella. (anamorph)

H. hyalinus - white mold on Amanita.

H. ochraceus - Anamorph: white mold on Russula/Lactarius. Teleomorph: Orange (rarer)

H. aurantius - orange crust on polypores.

Hypocrea americana and Protocrea farinosa are duller.

H. rosellus - pink crust on polypores. Said to be found on other substrates too. (anamorph)

Nectriopsis violacea - a beautiful pimpled purple parasite on the slime mold Fuligo septica, resembling Hypoxylon

Helminthosphaeria clavariarum - the grey mold on the coral Clavulina cristata (coralloides). Not pimpled - not a flask. In the Pezizomycetes class.

Sphaeronaemella helvellae - yellow-orange velvety mold on Gyromitra infula and ambigua.

Nectriopsis tubariicola - white mold contorting Tubaria furfuracea

Hypocrea latizonata - white mold on Cyathus striatus, the bird's nest.

Hypocrea sulphurea - bright yellow crust on Exidia jelly that may be on wood.

Hypomyces stephanomatis - white mold on Humaria hemisphaerica.

Hypomyces leotiicola - white mold on Leotia lubrica.

Coryne atrovirens - green mold on Leotia lubrica, related to the earth tongues.


Eurotiomycetes - Mushrooms in this class are not actually flasks, but the pimpled surface of a few look like flasks. The class contains thousands of species, but very few that produce fruiting bodies large enough to see. The Eurotiales order contains a few truffles, and the Onygenales order contains a few species that look like earth tongues or flasks. They are very tiny sometimes powdery tan balls on a stick, ~2mm across, and grow on animal remains. Here is some interesting trivia: Trichophyton (athlete's foot and ringworm) is a related anamorph (asexual stage) fungus.

Onygena corvina - on animal hair, wool or feathers, also owl pellets (think cat hair ball).

Onygena equina - on horns and hooves of cattle and sheep.


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