Jelly Fungusorange jelly fungus, cf. Tremella mesenterica, "Witches Butter"The Jelly Fungi in these pictures, both growing on dead twigs, are about the size of thumbnails. They are common but also very strange fungi. They often appear on decaying wood just a few days after a good rain. An interesting feature about them is that they can dry up, becoming leathery and distorted in form, but then rehydrate, or take water into their system, grow soft again and take on their original form.

These fungi have no stem, no gills or visible pores -- they are just hunks of jelly-like substance that grow exactly as shown in the pictures. Most jelly fungi are edible, though many people would say they don't taste like much. In the Orient the use certain species as flavoring in soup.

How do jelly fungi reproduce? They produce microscopic basidiospores over the surfaces of their bodies on structures very much like those found on the surfaces of gills beneath regular mushroom caps.