Tuesday 4 January 2022

Astromyxin - Star Jelly (Astral Jelly)

 Astromyxin - Star Jelly (Astral Jelly)

On Boxing Day I visited my family in Derbyshire.  I have to thank my brother for pointing out this jelly substance on the lawn whilst letting out the dog

The weather had recently been very wet and about 5 separate blobs of this transparent jelly appeared on the lawn.  Each blob (irregular margin) measured about 5-10 cm in diameter.  It looked like frogspawn but without the black tadpole, felt like frogspawn, and had no odour.  Also, I noted, it was not attached in anyway and could be scooped up intact.

It looked like a fungus that grows on dead and rotting branches called Tremella mesenterica and crossed my mind that perhaps it had fallen from a branch onto the lawn, although that would be a rare.  However, there were no trees nearby.  I then wondered if it could be a slime mould (a simple fungus).

I've subsequently done some research and here is more about this Star Jelly.    

Dr David Genny a fungi expert with the Scottish Natural Heritage leans towards a Slime Mould which is a single cell organism.

The Scotland Outdoor Teams sent a sample to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh.  It was deduced that it was neither animal or plant.  Some green algae cells were found within the jelly. 

Dr Hans Sluiman confirmed that there were green algae cells called diatoms contained within the jelly but from the sample he deduced it was neither animal or plant. Another sample was then given to Dr Andy Taylor of the McCauley Institute who also  examined the jelly under a microscope and found possible fungal filaments, bacteria and unfertilised eggs which were though to be from a frog. Also some DNA was extracted for analysis and then compared with a National Database where a match with a mould was found but this was thought not to be the answer as it was growing on the jelly. After looking at all the various possibilities Taylor opted for the amphibian option. This is a theory that many other experts concur with who suggest that the jelly consists of  the remains of the oviducts of frogs which from about Autumn are full of spawn. The frogs have then been predated and the oviducts left, possibly because the predators found it distasteful?

So there you go.

 Below are two photographs taken my myself on Boxing Day 2021.

Close-up of Star Jelly

Group of Star Jelly

Friday 19 March 2021

Exidia glandulosa - Witches' Butter

 Exidia glandulosa - Witches' Butter

This Spring, I have come across masses and masses of Witches' Butter.  Although a common fungi, there can be some seasons whereby there have been no sightings.  

It usually grows on the dead wood of deciduous trees and branches so look on the ground too for dead branches and twigs and you may spot it.


2-6 cm across.  Disc shaped at first then fusing into gelatinous fused together masses.  The upper surface can be velvety.  Blackish. When touched it feels jelly like.  Common.  To be seen all year.  Habitat: on dead wood of deciduous trees, sometimes on dead areas of living trees and dead branches on the ground.

Showing mature example on the point of fusing

Friday 16 October 2020

Sparassis crispa - Cauliflower Fungus- Sandringham Estate Park, Norfolk

 Sparassis crispa - Cauliflower Fungus- Sandringham Estate Park, Norfolk

Just returned from a superb mini break to Norfolk.  Perfect time of year (commencement of fungi season) to pay a visit to the magical Sandringham Estate Park, Norfolk.  Would definitely return.  A great peaceful vibe and variety of trees.  A very impressive park with two walks.  Sun low in the sky and the wonderful smell of leaf mould and fungal spores - so was hopeful of finding some mushrooms.

Cauliflower fungus is, as the common name suggests, resembling a cauliflower.  Even the florets and stem on close inspection look like so.  The texture is elastic and the mass is tight.

Characteristics: large cauliflower mass.  Creamy initially but darkening with age. At the base or near conifers. Up to 60 cm diam. Comprising a large number of flattened wavy lobes all joined together from a central stem which is short.  Texture firm and elastic. Mild sweet smell. Summer to Autumn. Not common.

Saturday 3 October 2020

Xylaria polymorpha - Dead Man's Fingers

 Xylaria polymorpha - Dead Man's Fingers

In this 'new normal' world of social distancing due to Covid-19, I was in a friends garden as you do these days chatting, and found a super example of Dead Man's Fingers.  Certainly at its prime.  Black with fine wrinkles and looking like a collection of Fingers at the base of a tree stump.

Characteristics:  a fruit body that protrudes from the stumps of trees.  The fingers being blunt and up to 8 cm tall and 3 cm wide.  The colour can vary from light brown when immature to black at maturity. Texture is hard and tough with fine wrinkles sometimes visible. To be found on stumps of beech trees or nearby.

Saturday 23 May 2020

Taking a break

Taking a break


I am taking a rest, a sort of sabbatical! possibly all Summer, from all things fungi as I contracted Covid-19, and am taking time out to recover.    I hope you enjoy the posts to-date.

Friday 13 March 2020

Trametes versicolor - Turkey Tail

Trametes versicolor - Turkey Tail

Many of the posts I publish are about the more unusual or uncommon fungi I find on my travels. This current fungi season has been very poor due to the unusually wet and windy conditions. One fungi I have repeatedly come across this year has been Turkey Tail.  It's a very common fungi and this season - it is everywhere!  The examples I have seen have been spectacular. Typical of its name - fanning out just like a Turkey Tail.

Below are some lovely examples.  These show the different and variable colours concentrically zoned.


Up to 5 cm across and 0.3 cm thick. Usually to be seen in large groups which form overlapping tiered groups.  The colour can be variable but zoned black-green, grey-blue, grey brown, or ochraceous-rust. Whitish margin, tough texture and smoothing with age. To be found on deciduous wood all year.  Very common.

Showing the turkey tail shape and the ochre concentrically zoned structure

Showing the variation of colours compared to the previous photograph
Showing blue-grey colours

Different colour variations compared to the above photographs

Sunday 16 February 2020

Hyphodontia sambuci

Hyphodontia sambuci

A short post about the less obvious fungi that can be seen on tree bark, tree trunks, branches, and logs, all of which can be either dead or alive, or in the process of dying.

Of course there are the obvious brackets which can grow to huge sizes, and have a tendency to grow in tiers, as well as individually.  But sometimes overlooked are the flat, crusty fungi, that can grow on smooth branches or be found in tree trunk crevices. These can vary in colour from white, buff, brown to black, ochre, or even pallid purple.

Hyphodontia sambuci is one such fungus.  It is white, and resembles white matt paint slapped on a tree trunk.  The texture is slightly chalky and has an irregular margin.  It has no particular odour, and favours elder but can also grow on other wood or broad-leaf trees.  Mostly to be seen during late Summer to Autumn but can also be seen throughout the year.  It is common.

Showing perspective