Leafy Brain

(Phaeotremella foliacea)

Conservation Status
Leafy Brain
Photo by Kirk Nelson
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNR - Unranked


not listed


Leafy Brain is a common and widespread fungus. It occurs in Europe, Australia, Japan, Central America, and North America. In the United States it is most common east of the Great Plains and west of the Rocky Mountains. It is less common in Minnesota where it is at the western extent of its eastern range. It is found alone or scattered in coniferous and mixed forests and woodlands. It grows on on stumps, logs, fallen branches, and dead but still attached branches of conifers. It is parasitic on bracket fungi in the genus Stereum, including False Turkey Tail, Hairy Curtain Crust, and Crowded Parchment. It grows on the hidden basal threads (hyphae) of the fungus.

The fruiting body is a 1½ to 8 (4 to 20 cm) long, ¾ to 2¾ (2 to 7 cm) high, loosely packed mass of wavy or leaf-like lobes. It appears seaweed-like, never cup-like or ear-like. Individual lobes are ¾ to 2 (2 to 5 cm) wide, and 132 to 116 (1 to 2 mm) thick. They are usually light to dark brown, sometimes purplish-brown or reddish-brown. They are gelatinous and pliable when fresh, hard when dry. The surface is hairless and smooth, becoming wrinkled toward the base. There is no stalk. The spore print is white. The flesh is edible but watery and tasteless.


Similar Species

Habitat and Hosts

Coniferous and mixed forests and woodlands

Stereum fungi






Distribution Map



4, 24, 26, 29, 30.




Common and widespread

  Kingdom Fungi (fungi)  
  Subkingdom Dikarya  
  Phylum Basidiomycota (club fungi)  
  Subphylum Agaricomycotina (jelly fungi, yeasts, and mushrooms)  
  Class Tremellomycetes  







This species was originally known as Tremella foliacea. DNA research published in 2015 showed that it was not closely related to othwer Tremella and it was placed in the genus Phaeotremella. Further analysis showed that it was actually a complex of several closely related but genetically distinct species. The name Phaeotremella foliacea now refers just to the species that grows on conifers. Two species growing on hardwoods are now called Jelly Leaf (Phaeotremella frondosa) and Brown Witch’s Butter (Phaeotremella fimbriata).




Tremella foliacea


Common Names


Leafy Brain











A thread-like cell of a fungus that is the main mode of vegetative growth: the basic structural unit of a multicellular fungus. Plural: hyphae. Collectively, the hyphae of a fungus is the mycelium.



Obtaining nutrients from another living organism.

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Kirk Nelson

    Leafy Brain      
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Other Videos
  Leafy Brain Fungus - Tremella foliacea
Botany - Green Tamil

Dec 11, 2021

Tremella foliacea - Leafy brain Fungus, producing brownish, frondose, gelatinous basidiocarps. They are grow on dead attached and recently fallen branches of broadleaf trees and conifers. Commonly known as leafy brain, jelly leaf, and brown witch's butter. The species is said to be edible.

The epithet "foliacea" means "leafy", with reference to the shape of the fruit bodies.

  Leafy Brain Jelly Fungus
Lori Jackson

Nov 23, 2020

surprise on end of branch🤓




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  Kirk Nelson

Location: Lebanon Hills Regional Park

Leafy Brain  
MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings






Created: 9/19/2020

Last Updated:

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