Brown Witches Butter Tremella foliacea

Brown Witches Butter:  (Tremella foliacea)

Above is a young specimen…and…, below a fully mature one:

  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Similar Species
  • Medicinal Info
  • Description
  • Habitat and Range
  • Recipes
  • References


Above is a very light colored example. This “Brown” species varies considerably with different shades of brown… (or maybe there will be distinctions made and the species separated into a few diverse groups… We shall see!

Above shows another very differently colored specimen…

New pics added 7-14-2019:


Similar Species:

Tremella foliacea is often mistaken for the common “Tree Ear” Mushroom…

Tree Ear (Black Fungus in Hot and Sour Soup)

Tremella foliacea is variable and may represent a complex of similar species across its range. Chen (1998) described three new species in the “foliacea” group, based on microscopic differences and on DNA sequencing: Tremella vasifera from Germany and T. fuscosuccinea and T. neofoliacea from Taiwan. Tremella coffeicolor (synonym T. auricularia), originally described from Bermuda, is similar, but has larger basidia and spores. It is also known from the Azores, the Caribbean islands, and South America.

Medicinal Info:

Tremella mushrooms contain high amounts of fiber and vitamin D. In a study done on mice, Tremella mushrooms were found to be among the top cancer and tumor-inhibiting fungi. Tremella mushrooms have been shown to be effective in treating leukopenia, the loss of white blood cells, in cancer patients undergoing radiation and chemotherapy. Tremella mushrooms have been found to help lower blood glucose levels and cholesterol, and can help boost the body’s antioxidant levels. 


Tremella foliacea is a species of fungus producing brownish, frondose, gelatinous basidiocarps (fruit bodies). It is widespread, particularly in north temperate regions, and is parasitic on other species of fungi (Stereum spp.), that grow on dead attached and recently fallen branches of broadleaf trees and conifers. Common names include leafy brain,  jelly leaf, and brown witches butter. The species is said to be edible, but is not much valued. Fruit bodies are gelatinous, pale to dark brown, sometimes purple-brown to almost black, up to 20 cm (8 in) across, and seaweed-like (with branched, undulating fronds). Microscopically, the hyphae are clamped and occur in a dense gelatinous matrix. Haustorial cells arise on the hyphae, producing filaments that attach to and penetrate the hyphae of the host. The basidia are tremelloid (globose to ellipsoid, with oblique to vertical septa), 10 to 19 by 8 to 14 μm, usually unstalked. The basidiospores are mostly ellipsoid, smooth, 6.5 to 10 by 4.5 to 8 μm, and germinate by hyphal tube or by yeast cells. 

Habitat and Range:

Tremella foliacea is a parasite of Stereum species (including S. rugosumS. hirsutum and S. sanguinolentum), growing on the host’s hyphae in the wood rather than on the host’s fruit bodies. Following its hosts, fruit bodies of T. foliacea are typically found on dead, attached or recently fallen branches of broadleaf trees and conifers.

The species has a cosmopolitan distribution and is known from North & South America, Europe, northern Asia, north Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.


Tremella mushrooms are generally white or yellow-white, semi-transparent mushrooms, although some varieties may be brown in color. Tremella mushrooms are soft and gelatinous when moist, and tend to shrink and become leathery with age. Tremella mushrooms consist of a lettuce-like fruiting body, attached to a central base. The lettuce-like structures are relatively thin, being around 0.5 millimeters in thickness, and hollow. Inconsistent in size, they can range from 4 to 15 centimeters in length. Tremella mushrooms are lacking in flavor, and are more about texture rather than taste. They are somewhat rubbery and soft, but have a slight bite to them.


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