Walking the forest with friends, hoping 2023 to see the mushrooms return after nada in 2022 on the Sunshine Coast (very sad faces). And what do we see that cheers us up – Tremella mesenteria. These colourful jelly belly like fungi would make anyone smile! Many thanks to Arlo and his human for telling McDowell the name of these.

The smooth translucent jelly-like texture is so fun. And the colours pop out in the forest of greens and browns. While usually small it’s cool to see the little families of them dotting a piece of wood.

About the Tremella mesenterica

Tremella mesenterica (common names include yellow brain, golden jelly fungus, yellow trembler, and witches’ butter) is a common jelly fungus in the family Tremellaceae of the Agaricomycotina. It is most frequently found on dead but attached and on recently fallen branches, especially of angiosperms, as a parasite of wood decay fungi in the genus Peniophora. The gelatinous, orange-yellow fruit body of the fungus has a convoluted or lobed surface that is greasy or slimy when damp. It grows in crevices in bark, appearing during rainy weather. Within a few days after rain it dries into a thin film or shriveled mass capable of reviving after subsequent rain.

The fruit body has an irregular shape, and usually breaks through the bark of dead branches. It is up to 7.5 cm (3.0 in) broad and 2.5 to 5.0 cm (1.0 to 2.0 in) high, rounded to variously lobed or brain-like in appearance. The fruit body is gelatin-like but tough when wet, and hard when dry. The surface is usually smooth, the lobes translucent, deep yellow or bright yellow-orange, fading to pale yellow, rarely unpigmented and white or colorless. The fruit bodies dry to a dark reddish or orange. The spores, viewed in mass, are whitish or pale yellow.

This fungus occurs widely in deciduous and mixed forests and is widely distributed in temperate and tropical regions that include Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North and South America. The fungus is edible, but lacks flavour. Tremella mesenterica produces carbohydrates that are attracting research interest because of their various biological activities.

More information: Tremella mesenteria: Wikipedia