First post using the incredibly simple seamomkey browser, which comes equpped with all the editing tools you need right off the bat, don’t have to hunt for them like you do on Firefox or Chrome. Simple, free and I recommend it.
Continuing our wet, muddy and fall-strewn mud trek through the Blakselee Preserve, what I thoiught was orange jelly — or witch’s butter — on a living conifer. The references say it only grows on dead conifers and there was some growing on a dead conifer a few feet from this tree…Maybe this fungus didn’t get the message or, more likely, it’s an orange jelly look-alike that I mis-identified.
Orange Jelly Fungus
Scientific Name: Dacrymyces palmatus…
Witch’s Butter Description
This fungus develops on dead pine trees whose bark has fallen away. It is shiny, bright yellow-orange, lobed and convoluted, with an appearance somewhat like the surface of the brain (a gelatinous mass) once fully developed. It typically appears after a heavy rain fall.
Witch’s butter has tuning-fork shaped basidia and multi-septate, curved-oblong spores that appear on the upper surface. Fruiting bodies are (typically) 1 to 6 cm x 2.5 cm and they form dense clusters. They have a white basal attachment. It dries to a reddish-orange or dark red-brown colour, with a tough outer membrane.
Although Tremella mesenterica is a bit similar, they are more yellow in colour, and they fruit only on hardwood trees which still have their bark. Tremella mesenterica is also known as Witch’s butter. Both these forms of Witch’s butter are edible ONLY when they are boiled or steamed.
Witch’s butter appears from May through November throughout most of North America, Europe, Northern Africa and parts of Asia.
Dacrymyces palmatus is saprobic; this means that it lives off of dead or decaying plant material. This is why you will find it only on fallen pine trees where there is no outer bark.
Most members of the Basidiomycota phylum (jelly fungi), are edible. They have no smell to them and they are flavourless. They add a distinctive texture to many culinary dishes (soups mostly). According to Wise Geek, it is reported in China that jelly fungi are thought to improve circulation and breathing. In addition, chemicals found in certain species of the Basidiomycota phylum are thought to have a blood thinning effect.
Witchs Butter Growth: Orange JellyWitch’s Butter Legend
According to Eastern European legend, when Witch’s butter appears on the gate or door of one’s home that home (and the family) had been targeted by the spell of a witch. The only remedy to remove the evil spell was to pierce the jelly fungus with something sharp until it died.