Jelly Mushrooms

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As their name implies these mushrooms are gelatinous or rubbery. They can be bloblike, brainlike, leaflike, and even earlike (all-around funky little guys!). Some have amorphous, or shapeless fruiting bodies, while others have a cap and stalk. Some are cuplike and few are tough, branched, or coral-like. There is even one species with teeth, the Jelly False Tooth (Pseudohydnum gelatinosum). Their surfaces can be gooey, dry, moist, stiff, veined, or smooth, and do well in cooler climates or times of the year where they can rehydrate and swell after drying out. Most jellies are saprophytic and found on wood, but some are parasitic on other fungi. Because of their irregular shapes, knowing the substrate (deciduous or coniferous wood) and habitat is a great help when identifying jellies.

Witches’ Butter (Tremella mesenterica)

Golden Ear (Tremella aurantia syn. Naematelia aurantia)

Orange Jelly Spot (Dacrymyces chrysospermus syn. Dacrymyces palmatus)

Warlock's Butter (Exidia nigricans) & Black Witches’ Butter (Exidia glandulosa)

Amber Jellyroll or Willow Brain (Exidia recisa complex including Exidia crenata)

Wood Ear (Auricularia sp.)

Jellyleaf (Phaeotremella frondosa

Jellied False Coral (Tremellodendron schweinitzii syn. Tremellodendron pallidum )

Fan-shaped Jelly Fungus (Dacryopinax or Dacrymyces spathularia)

Velvet Earlet (Dacropinax elegans)

Club-like Tuning Fork (Calocera cornea)

White Coral Jelly Fungus (Sebacina sparassoidea)

Jelly False Tooth (Pseudohydnum gelatinosum)

 

Witches’ Butter (Tremella mesenterica)

Notes:

Habitat & Ecology: parasitic on Peniophora species (crust fungi) including Red Tree Brain Fungus, Peniophota rufa, and Giraffe Spots, Peniophora albobadia in our area -- the two species are not usually seen together; on oak or other deciduous wood; summer, fall, winter

Fruiting body: gelatinous; single to a few blobs; amorphous or squished lobes together; color can range from a translucent yellow to opaque yellow/orange

Look-a-likes: Golden Ear (Tremella aurantia) parasitizes Stereum species, often fruiting at the same time and growing directly on it; not as common as very similar Orange Jelly Spot (Dacrymyces chrysospermus) which grows on coniferous wood.

 

Golden Ear (Tremella aurantia syn. Naematelia aurantia)

Notes: 

Habitat & Ecology: parasitic on Stereum species; deciduous wood

Fruiting body: gelatinous; single to a few blobs; amorphous or squished lobes together

Look-a-likes: Witches' Butter (Tremella mesenterica) has a different host. 

 

Orange Jelly Spot (Dacrymyces chrysospermus syn. D. palmatus)

Notes: seems to be more common than Witches' Butter in Columbia County

Habitat & Ecology: saprophytic; coniferous logs and stumps; summer to winter

Fruiting body:  white rooting base or at the point of attachment (not always easy to find); single, clustered, or closely grouped; form is quite variable, ranging from a simple dot to an upright or almost club-shaped blob, sometimes a bit flattened to lumps of folds and wrinkles; opaque orange

Look-a-likes: Witches' Butter (Tremella mesenterica) and Golden Ear (Tremella aurantia) are on deciduous wood; Dacrymyces stillatus (orange) and Dacrymyces capitatus (yellow) form small, round blobs; Dacryopinax spathularia is consistently fan-shaped and grows in large groups of individual fans.

 

Warlock's Butter (Exidia nigricans) & Black Witches’ Butter (Exidia glandulosa)

Notes: These two species are mostly indistinguishable. E. glandulosa is supposedly not as common 

Habitat & Ecology: saprophytic; deciduous wood; fall and winter

Fruiting body: black or very dark brown; E. nigricans forms brain-like folds with flat facets rather than a coalesced blob and E. glandulosa forms a continuous sheet of black “lobes” blending into one form; gelatinous and wrinkly jelly; glossy unless dry

Look-a-likes:  Amber Jellyroll (Exidia recisa complex) is brown-colored and often forms sharp edges or more regular shapes.

 

 

Amber Jellyroll or Willow Brain (Exidia recisa complex including Exidia crenata)

Notes: quite variable form!

Habitat & Ecology: saprophytic; fallen hardwood twigs and on the branches of Willow and other deciduous trees; fall and winter

Fruiting body: blob that becomes disc-shaped and as it expands, begins to develop sharper angles and wrinkles; this is one of the “earlike” jellies

Look-a-likes: Wood Ear (Auricularia sp.) is also gelatinous, but is wider and floppier, with a slightly hairy, velvety surface (last photo); Birch Jelly (Exidia repanda) grows more like buttons on birch wood.

 

Wood Ear (Auricularia sp.)

 

Jellyleaf (Phaeotremella frondosa

Notes: “frondosa” refers to leaf-like

Habitat & Ecology: parasitic; on Stereum species; deciduous wood; summer and fall

Fruiting body: a mass of leaf-like lobes, sheet-like curls;  light brown to dark reddish-brown; finely powdered if not wet (both pictured)

Look-a-likes: Phaeotremella foliacea looks similar but grows on conifers; Amber Jellyroll (Exidia recisa complex) grows more scattered and in discs, and cushions, not leafy.

 

White Coral Jelly Fungus (Sebacina sparassoidea)

Notes: synonym Tremella reticulata

Habitat & Ecology: mycorrhizal; on the ground; mixed woods; summer and fall

Fruiting body: thick, fragile, rubbery lobes with hollow areas and perforations; white/cream colored

Look-a-likes: Jellied False Coral (Tremellodendron schweinitzii) is tough and not as jelly-like, and sometimes it has defined branching.

 

Fan-shaped Jelly Fungus (Dacryopinax or Dacrymyces spathularia)

Notes: 

Habitat & Ecology: saprophytic; deciduous and coniferous wood; summer and fall

Fruiting body: yellow, flattened paddles on individual stems, arranged in rows; gelatinous

Spore print: 

Look-a-likes: A young specimen, before they flatten could look like Orange Jelly Spot (Dacrymyces chrysospermus).

 

Velvet Earlet (Dacropinax elegans)

Notes: This mushroom is common and found in the eastern United States and down through Central America to Argentina, and even in some of the Caribbean islands! On iNaturalist, besides one observation in Pittsfield, MA, this is the farthest into the Northeast this mushroom has been reported. This does not necessarily mean no one has found it farther north into New England, but rather that we could be close to the end of its range. 

Habitat & Ecology: saprophytic; deciduous wood; summer to fall

Fruiting body: forms upside-down cups that sometimes look like satellite dishes; cups are round and then ruffle with time; the stem is darker brown, fading to an orange-brown at the cup; the underside is smooth and the outer surface is velvety

Look-alikes: Wood Ear (Auricularia spp.) is also velvety on the outside but is generally bigger and has a much less defined stem and cup shape.

 

Club-like Tuning Fork (Calocera cornea)

Notes: 

Habitat & Ecology: saprophytic; clustering in rows on barkless, deciduous wood; summer and fall

Fruiting body: coral-like branches, round and tapering to points; typically unbranched, sometimes forked; yellow, smooth, glabrous, waxy and typically with a white fuzzy base 

Look-a-likes: Calocera viscosa is larger, round-tipped, and more highly branched, and grows on conifer wood.

 

Jellied False Coral (Tremellodendron schweinitzii syn. Tremellodendron pallidum)

Notes: 

Habitat & Ecology: mycorrhizal; on the ground among duff, bare soil and moss; under deciduous trees especially oaks; spring to fall

Fruiting body:  tough, flattened, coral-like branches with stubby tips and fused at the base; smooth surface with fibrous/stringy flesh

Look-a-likes:

 

Jelly False Tooth (Pseudohydnum gelatinosum)

Notes: 

Habitat & Ecology: saprophytic; single, scattered, or clustered on coniferous wood; late summer through winter

Fruiting body: overall gelatinous but dry to the touch; when larger (can see it in the second photo) it forms a spoon or tongue-like shape with a toothed side; teeth are decurrent down the stem; white, grayish with a blue tint;

Look-a-likes: Because of the gelatinous, jelly texture, it is not a toothed fungus; Asian Beauty (Radulomyces copelandii) looks similar but is a crusting fungus with a spreading substrate from where long teeth arise.