Tremella mesenterica

Tremella mesenterica
Image Courtesy of Eleanor Yarrow
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Group of Fungi: Jelly fungus

Family: Tremellaceae

Latin Name: Tremella mesenterica Schaeff.

Common Name: Witchs' Butter

Description: Convoluted to irregularly lobed gelatinous mass, pale yellow to golden yellow or orange-yellow when fresh but becoming dark orange upon drying, 1–4 in (2.5–10 cm) broad and 3/4–1 5/8 in (2–4 cm) high, surface sticky when wet, overall texture soft and jelly-like when fresh but becoming shriveled and hard when dry; spores hyaline in mass.

Biological Role: Decomposer of wood and a parasite of certain other wood-inhabiting fungi.

Habitat: On decaying wood in broadleaf forests; solitary or occurring in small cluster.

Geographical Distribution: Found throughout North America.

Comments: Dacrymyces palmatus is very similar in appearance but has as fruiting body that is white at the base and occurs on the decaying wood of conifers and not broadleaf trees. Tremella mesenterica is capable of drying out and then reviving when conditions again become moist. Although smaller than most the fungi collected for human consumption, Tremella mesenterica is considered edible.

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