Edible and medicinal mushroom species with orange translucent jellylike appearance on Alnus rubra Alder tree branch

Tremella mesenterica (Peniophora sp.)

Tremella mesenterica (Witch’s Butter)

Edible and medicinal mushroom species with orange translucent jellylike appearance on Alnus rubra Alder tree branch
Tremella mesenterica on Peniophora sp. on Alnus rubra

Tremella mesenterica is a parasitic fungi that feeds off of the Peniphora sp. of fungi, both of which inhabit and parasitize the decaying wood of deciduous tree species. It is also commonly known as Witch’s Butter  because of it’s appearance. This species is common to the Pacific Northwest and temperate climates, and a known edible and medicinal species. It is flavorless and has a fun texture.

Tremella aurantia Orange jelly edible fungi parasite growing on saprotrophic shelf mushroom Stereum on Alder log medicinal mushrooms species
Tremella aurantia on Stereum hirsutum on Alnus rubra

Tremella mesenterica is sometimes confused with other species of jelly mushrooms. Tremella aurantia, a RelativE known as Golden Ear. It is sometimes also called Witch’s Butter. However, although it also is parasitic, it is a darker orange jelly mushroom that grows on a different fungi, a shelf mushroom called Stereum hirsutum, a.k.a False Turkey Tail. Both Stereum hirsutum and Peniphora sp. grow on deciduous tree species.

Orange jelly mushroom on Douglas Fir with white base Dacrymyces palmatus chrysospermus edible fungi
Dacrymyces palmatus aka D. chrysospermus

Another relative of Tremella mesenterica, is a species that is not in the same family, and isn’t even parasitic at all. It is a saprotrophic species that grows on dead and decaying conifer tree wood called Dacrymyces chrysospermus and also known as D. palmatus. D. chrysospermus is also jelly in appearance but is more orange than Tremella mesenterica and less orange than Tremella aurantia.

All three mushrooms are related even though they have different eating habits, living arrangements, and color. They are all medicinal, belonging to over 100 jelly mushrooms, and carrying the same polysaccharides. The different families and genera are currently being split up by scientists, the more they learn about their genetics.

Please feel free to ask questions about Tremella mesenterica, share your story, or learn more about mushrooms and fungi, or wild plants.

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