What are Jelly Fungi?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Jelly fungi are types of fungi that belong to several different orders, including Auriculariales, Dacrymycetales, and Tremellales. They belong to the class Heterobasidiomycetes and form mushrooms that have a gelatinous appearance. Jelly fungi can typically be found growing on logs as well as on twigs and tree stumps. Some actually grow on certain plants, moss, and even other types of fungus. They are most commonly found in the fall or summer months.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Jelly fungi are typically white, orange, pink, rose-colored, brown, or black. They tend to lack a definite shape and look more like seaweed or a glob of jelly and than anything else. Often, jelly fungi form cup-like shapes or branches that make them appear like coral. When they are yellow to orange in color, they are given the nickname "Witch's Butter."

Among mushrooms, jelly fungi are very unique. The vast majority of mushrooms have club-like spore-creating cells, called basidia, that are used for reproducing. Typically, these cells are found on tubes and ridges beneath the mushroom cap. Spore-creating cells are different in jelly fungi. They have walls or a forked appearance. Additionally, they are found on the upper surface of the growth as opposed to beneath the mushroom cap.

Though their strange appearance may suggest otherwise, jelly fungi are often edible. Typically, they can be eaten raw, and they are rarely poisonous. There is only one type of jelly fungi that is frequently harvested and then sold in stores: Cloud Ear or Wood Ear. This type is most frequently used in soup and is described as having a texture that is both slippery and crunchy at the same time. Though many of the other types are edible, there are quite a few that aren't widely considered attractive to the palate. In fact, many of them are described as having a taste that is similar to that of soil.

Snow Fungus is another popular type of jelly fungi. It's commonly called White Fungus and is sometimes referred to as Silver Tree Ear Fungus as well. This type grows on trees, in groups that have a frilly type of appearance; it is translucent and has an off-white coloring. Typically, it is dried at purchase, and the user has a soak it before it can be used. It is tasteless, but some people enjoy its gelatinous texture and appreciate the medical benefits it is rumored to provide; it's most frequently used in Chinese dishes and is often added to savory as well a sweet recipes.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments


@bfree: "Mushrooms" are not a "Commonly abused hallucinogenic." The only mushrooms that contain Psilocybin and Psilocin are "hallucinogenic" (Not exactly. They do not cause true hallucinations.) These are restricted to two families, known as the Psilocybe, and the Gymnopilus. There are billions of other mushrooms and fungi that do not contain it. Furthermore, in case you did not know this, the active compound in these "Hallucinogenic" mushrooms is a type of Dimethyltryptamine, or DMT. DMT is found almost everywhere in nature, including the human body. In fact, DMT is produced in your body every night during REM sleep, from the Amino Acid tryptophan, in order to facilitate dreaming, which means you use it every night.

DMT is considered one of the most important exogenous neurotransmitters in the body, and externally sourced, such as from mushrooms that contain it, it has proven health benefits. It is also 100 percent impossible to become addicted to Psilocybe or Gymnoplius mushrooms because of how well DMT is metabolized in the body, and the natural uses it has, so I'm not too sure what "abuse" you are referring to. You should really go learn something about the complex relationship between humans, other organisms and entheogens or "drugs". Then maybe you would know that your body produces many of its own drugs, including opiates, and they're not all bad as people make them out to be (Which is based on the war on drugs, which is based on money, power, and control. This is why contras were linked to the cocaine/crack epidemic a few decades ago in the US.)


I know mushrooms and other types of jelly fungi are known not only for their great taste but for their nutritional benefits as well.

They're packed with vitamins, minerals, calcium, phosporus and amino acids just to name a few of their health benefits. But I was really surprised to read that they have medicinal purposes too since they are a commonly abused hallucinogenic.

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