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Helminthosphaeria clavariarum ? (needs further research)
the pyrenomycete Helminthosphaeria clavariarum, which routinely parasitizes Clavulina cristata from the base upwards, rendering it gray to black. Under a hand lens, the tiny black dots that form the perithecia of the pyrenomycete can be seen--and under the microscope the Helminthosphaeria can't be missed.
Description: Ecology: Presumed to be mycorrhizal with conifers and perhaps with hardwoods; growing alone, gregariously, or in clusters; summer and fall (over winter in warm climates); widely distributed in North America/europe
So far the second complication seems easy enough to decipher--but the third complication involves Clavaria cinerea, which has purplish gray to gray colors and bluntly pointed to cristate branch tips. So the question becomes: Is "Clavulina cinerea" a distinct entity, or does it merely represent forms of Clavulina cristata that have been attacked by Helminthosphaeria? ( http://www.mushroomexpert.com/clavulina_... )