Tuesday, 19 April 2011
The Trembling Brain. Tremella encephala
Earlier this year, up on Kilvey Hill I came across a mushroom I had not seen before. I guessed it was a tremella because of its basic jelly like appearance but it was not a mushroom that I could find in any books but I did find it online and identified it as Tremella encephala.
Tremella is a parasitic species that lives off other fungi. Tremella encephala or trembling brain, to give it a literal description is firm to the touch and indeed it resembles a brain. In the photos above one can also see another mushroom of the Stereum family and online, Stereum sanguinolentum is given as the host species. The bracket shown in these photos however is Trichaptum abietinum/Purplepore Bracket which is a very common species that lives on conifers and it was on conifers that all specimens were found.
The Tremella lives on the mycelium of the species it's parasitic on so quite often the host cannot be seen.
Below is the mushroom seen under a hand lens and beneath that one can see a cross section through the fruitbody. The centre of the mushroom is intriguing. What one is looking at is the deformed fruiting body of the host.
The centre is a firm opaque white core. Click on the photo to enlarge.
One of the qualities of tremella is that they dry up in sunny weather only to re-inflate after rain. Quite a few jelly fungi do this. A month or so after the weather had been very nice I returned and virtually all had disappeared.
The photo below is of the first Tremella encephala I came across and as can be seen, the fruitbody had shrivelled and hardened into a dark crimson nugget.
Below are close up photos of the tubes of Trichaptum abientinum/Purplepore Bracket. The lilac colour is clearly visible. As this mushroom matures the tubes turn from purple to a red brown.