Was that an upstretched hand of a hastily buried corpse in the woods? Or just fungus?

Dead Man's Fingers, is a wood decay fungus, growing from the bases of rotting stumps and poking up through the ground like a dead man's fingers.
Dead Man's Fingers, is a wood decay fungus, growing from the bases of rotting stumps and poking up through the ground like a dead man's fingers.

I have long been a fervent proponent of the positive mental health attributes that can accrue from a leisurely hike on a path through woodland or meadow.

Then again, just such an outing can oh so easily evoke feelings of terror or trepidation. It is the sort of reaction you might have if you see the upstretched hand of a hastily buried human corpse.

There you have it. My exercise in hyperbole has caught your attention. My hope is that you will read further.

A species of wild, native mushroom has the ominous name of dead man's fingers. Not surprisingly, it gets that moniker from its resemblance to the fingers of a human hand extending up out of the soil. Please be assured it is just a weird-looking mushroom. There is no real need for you to go running home all willy-nilly.

The more you know about the natural world, the more fun you can have.

Neil Garrison was the longtime naturalist at a central Oklahoma nature center. His email is atlatlgarrison@hotmail.com.

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Nature & You: This mushroom, dead man's fingers, is a bit ghoulish