Thursday, January 20, 2011

Don't Eat the Jelly

Commonly called Jelly Fungi, the Heterobasidiomycetes are a comparitvely small group of fungi that differ from other Basidiomycetes in the structure of the basidium (1). The origin of their common name is self evident, their jelly-like appearance coming from the gelatinous structure of the fruiting bodies. These have a considerible capacity to withstand dessication.
White Brain Fungus, Exidia thuretiana
A common Jelly Fungus, often seen in large groups on dead and rotting branches of broadleaf trees (especially beech) is the White Brain Fungus, Exidia thuretiana. When wet, E. thuretiana appears cushion-like. It becomes contorted into brain-like folds, fusing with adjacent fruiting bodies that are smooth, shiny and white (1). Upon drying, it shrinks and becomes quite hard with smaller specimens becoming almost invisible. Odorless and tasteless it is inedible, appearing in autumn and winter.
Dacrymyces stillatus
Similarly inedible, Dacrymyces stillatus is yellowish orange when wet, becoming a deeper orange when dry. It is most common in the late summer to early autumn when the sub-spherical to saucer shaped frutiing bodies appear smooth and glistening (1). It can caused considerable decay of both broadleaf and coniferous wood (2).

  1. Jordan 1995, The Encyclopedia of Fungi of Britain and Ireland pp. 367, 369, 371
  2. Seifert 1983, Mucologia 75 pp. 1011-1018

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