A collaboration of coast and countryside organisations on The Lizard Peninsula

EarthtonguesThere are nine species of Earthtongues in the UK. Often overlooked, they are an important indicator of ancient unimproved grassland.
Photo: Steve Townsend

 




EARTHTONGUES
 

Scientific name: Geoglossum ssp.           

What to look for:

  • Appearance: Dark to black, club-shaped fungus, between 2 and 8 cm tall.
  • Spores: Light to dark brown.
  • Where: Unimproved grassland.
  • When: Usually late autumn.
  • Similar species: Dead Man’s Fingers

EarthtonguesThere are nine species of Earthtongue in the UK, a fungus that is often mistaken for Dead Man’s Fingers (Xylaria polymorpha). Like blackcurrant lollipops, their dark fruiting bodies stick up from the soil. Varying from black to an olive green, dependent on the species, they are found in short grassland and Sphagnum peats. To distinguish between the different species, which are spread across the genera Geoglossum, Microglossum and Trichoglossum, microscopic investigation is generally required.

Did you know…?

…The name ‘earthtongue’ is derived from the tongue-shape of the fruiting body.

…Earthtongues are considered an indicator of ancient grassland.

More information and references:

Buczacki, S., Shields, C., Ovenden, D., 2012. Collins Fungi Guide. Collins, London.

Websites:

First Nature: http://www.first-nature.com/fungi/geoglossum-cookeanum.php (for Geoglossum cookeanum)

Fungus.org.uk: http://fungus.org.uk/nwfg/earth-tongues.htm

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoglossaceae

Published: February 2015
Author: Amanda Scott
Photos: Steve Townsend

Earthtongues

Click here for information about other plant and fungi species you can find on the Lizard.