Montag, 30. Januar 2012

Plant of the Day (January 30th, 2012) - Tremellia mesenterica Retz. Fr.

During the fieldtrip at the Ruhr-University in Bochum, a participant of the event found a very interesting fungus. I didn't mentioned this species in my last article, because the focus was on Lichens & Bryophytes; a fungus would not fit in this topic. So, today, I want to tell you something about this fungus. It's Tremella mesenterica Retz. Fr. from the Tremellaceae. In German, this plant is known as “Goldgelber Zitterling”, while in English, common names of this species are “golden jelly fungus”, “yellow brain”, “yellow trembler” and “Witch's butter”.

T. mesenterica - habitus

The golden-yellow to honey-yellow mushroom has 3 to 10 centimetres (1.25 to 4 inches) in diameter. It's gelatinous and has many convolutions and ridges. Thereby, the mushroom looks like a small, yellow brain, which is also the reason for names like “Yellow Brain”.

The dry mushroom is only a thin organe layer on the wood. It gets his brain-like habitus only by becoming wet.

The spores are egg-shaped and has a messurement of 7-11 x 7-9 micrometres. The sporepowder is white or pale yellow.

T. mesenterica -  on a branch

T. mesenterica is a parasite, which infects other fungi. These hosts are wood-decomposing fungi, which grows on the wood of angiosperm trees like alder, acer or beeches. The species is a cosmopolitan and can be found all over the world.

Unlike the allegation in some literature, this fungus is not poisonous and edible. However, the tough, rubber-like mushroom has no special flavor and tastes very insipid.

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