Witches’ Butter

(Tremella mesenterica)

Conservation Status
Witches’ Butter
Photo by Heather Ellis
  IUCN Red List

not listed


not listed


not listed


Witches’ Butter is a very common and widespread jelly fungus. It occurs worldwide on every continent except Antarctica. In the United States it occurs east of the Great Plains and west of the Rocky Mountains, and is mostly absent in between. It obtains its nutrients by parasitizing wood-rotting crust fungi in the genus Peniophora. It occurs singly or in groups on logs, branches, and twigs of oaks and other hardwoods. The wood on which it is found may be fallen or still on the tree but is always dead and usually has the bark still attached.

When young and fresh the fruiting body is one or more stemless, gelatinous but tough, ¾ to 4 wide, 1 to 2 in height lobes and folds. The lobes are translucent, shiny, and pale orangish-yellow to bright yellowish-orange. When clustered, they fuse together and resemble an exposed brain. They are mostly water. In wet conditions they swell and lose shape, looking like a dollop of melting butter. When they begin to dry they become darker orange, more opaque, and smaller. In dry conditions they become dark orange, shriveled up, hard, and brittle. Sometimes they collapse into an inconspicuous film when they dry, but will revive with the next wet weather.

It is not edible. It is not poisonous but cooking it will release the water and leave little to eat.


Similar Species


Leafy Brain (Phaeotremella foliacea) forms a cluster of light to dark brown or purplish brown, leaf-like lobes.

Golden Ear (Tremella aurantia) lobes are thicker and have a dull, matte finish. They are not shiny. They do not shrivel when dried. Its host is Hairy Curtain Crust (Stereum hirsutum), a bracket fungus.

Orange Jelly Fungus (Dacrymyces palmatus) is slightly smaller and more orange. It is white at the base where it attaches to the wood. It grows only on conifers.

White Coral Jelly Fungus (Tremella reticulata) is white. Older specimens are clusters of finger-like branches. It tends to grow on the ground.

Habitat and Hosts

Logs, fallen or still attached but dead branches and twigs, with bark still attached.

Oaks and other hardwoods




Year-round, especially late fall, during prolonged wet periods


Distribution Map



4, 24, 26, 29, 30.




Very common and widespread

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









Helvella mesenterica

Tremella lutescens

Tremella quercina


Common Names


Witches’ Butter












Obtaining nutrients from another living organism.

Visitor Photos

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    Witches’ Butter      

Heather Ellis

    Witches’ Butter   Witches’ Butter  
    Witches’ Butter      
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos





  Witches Butter
Andree Reno Sanborn
  Witches Butter  

Witches Butter or Witches Jelly or Orange jelly

(Dacrymyces palmatus)

  Grzyby: Trzęsak pomarańczowożółty / Tremella mesenterica
MTMK: PhotoVideoTravel&Garden

Published on Feb 16, 2014

# Trzęsak pomarańczowożółty / kisielec pomarańczowy / galaretowiec kruszkowy / galaretowiec pospolity / móżdżak kruszkowy / trzęsidło pomarańczowe / trzęsak pomarańczowy / trzęsak złotożółty (łac. tremella mesenterica / hormomyces aurantiacus / tremella brasiliensis / tremella lutescens / tremella mesenterica var. lutescens), grzyb niejadalny

# Yellow Vrain / Golden Jelly Fungus / Yellow Trembler / Witches' Butter (l. Tremella Mesenterica / Hormomyces Aurantiacus / Tremella Brasiliensis / Tremella Lutescens / Tremella Mesenterica var. Lutescens), inedible fungus

# Warmia i Mazury, w pobliżu: jezioro Narie, Ostróda, Morąg, Kretowiny

# Music: Silent Partner - Every Step (Audio YouTube Library)




Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Witch's Butter (Tremella mesenterica?) on Log
Carl Barrentine

Uploaded on Sep 11, 2010

Photographed at the Concordia Language Villages, Bemidji, Minnesota (08 September 2010). Go here to learn more about this jelly fungi: http://www.mushroomexpert.com/tremella_mesenterica.html

  Witches Butter

Published on Jan 22, 2014

Tremella mesenterica - jelly-like fungus found on recently dead or decaying wood.

  Foraging the Forest: Jelly Fungi; Witches Butter
The Roaming Gnome...Glenn Munro

Published on May 26, 2015




Visitor Sightings

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January 2024

Location: Cass County

Witches’ Butter  
  Heather Ellis

Location: Remer Township, Cass County

Witches’ Butter  
MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings






Created: 11/6/2015

Last Updated:

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