Tremella aurantia is a parasitic fungi that feeds off of the shelf fungi, Stereum hirsutum, both of which inhabit and parasitize the living and decaying wood of deciduous tree species. It is also commonly known as Golden Ear 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 is sometimes confused with other species of orange jelly mushrooms. Tremella mesenterica, a is a RelativE of Tremella aurantia, known as Witch’s Butter due to its appearance. However, although it also is parasitic, it is a lighter orange jelly mushroom that grows on a different fungi, a scale mushroom called Peniophora sp.. Both Stereum hirsutum and Peniophora sp. grow on decaying deciduous tree species. Both species can also be found growing on the same branch.
Another relative of Tremella aurantia, is a species that isn’t parasitic, or even in the same family 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 medicinal polysaccharides. The different families and genera are currently being split up by scientists, the more they learn about their genetics.
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