Monday, August 10, 2009

Wortcunning: Gold Witches Butter {Tremella mesenterica}

Other Names: Faery/Fairy Butter, Yellow Brains, Shot Star, Golden Jelly Fungus, Star Jelly, Golden Jelly Roll, Yellow Trollsmor, Sun Clumps

Description: Gold Witches butter is a jelly fungus that is commonly found in North America, Australia, and in some parts of Europe and Asia. Depending on the beholder, one could say that it has an unpleasant resemblance of brains, although I personally think it is quite lovely.

Its colour ranges any where from a light butter to a bright orange, and its texture is very jelly like. As it dries it becomes hard and often a rusty orange in colour. It is not uncommon to see clumps growing together, and they generally reach about 5
cm in height and 12 cm in diameter.

Warnings: As with all plants, one should make sure to be thoroughly informed before ingesting them, and is best to do so under the guidance of a qualified healer.

As far as I know there are no health warnings against ingesting Gold Witches Butter, although if you are looking to harvest it, make sure that you know what it is! There are many different fungi that can cause unpleasant side effects, so please do your research (especially field research!).

Cultivating: The natural habitat for Gold Witches butter is in temperate deciduous woodlands, and can easily be found in Fall and Winter on dead wood of deciduous trees such as oaks, alders, elders, birch, beech, and eucalyptus. It actually lives off of other fungi that decay wood, species like Aleurodiscus.
Although it is an abundant fungus, C. Michael Hogan warns:
...its importance is clear for nutrient recycling and soil manufacture within hardwood forests. Its abundance and role in such forests is threatened by systematic deforestation as the human population further expands. Such fungi also demonstrate the significance of avoiding overpruning and removal of snags and fallen trees in hardwood forests.
Medicinal/Remedial Properties and Lore: Botanist Hugh Davies of Anglesey was a suitable cure when rubbed on chilblains (Medicinal Plants in Folk Tradition).
Today there is research being done on the medicinal properties of Gold Witches butter; in a 2004 report called The Isolation, Structure, and Applications of the Exocellular Heteropolysaccharide Glucuronoxylomannan Produced by Yellow Brain Mushroom Tremella mesenterica there were claims that some of those properties include:
...immunostimulating, protecting against radiation, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, hypocholesterolemic, hepatoprotective, and antiallergic effects.

Magical Properties and Lore: According to Tom Volk, Gold Witches Butter got its name from Eastern Europe, where it is said that it shows up on the gate or entrance of a house of those who have been curse by a Witch. He goes on to say that the only was to break the curse is to pierce the fungi with straight pins.

In Toads and Toadstools, Adrian Morgan says that it was burnt in Sweden as protection against malignant spirits, and got the nick Star Jelly in England because it was believed to be a fallen star. It got the name Star Shot in Scotland for the same reason

Other Uses: Gold Witches Butter is edible, but is tasteless. It would probably be a suitable addition to stew or soup.




Pyke said...

That is pretty! Thanx for the 411!

Anonymous said...

this is a cool mushroom!

perma_culture said...

Hey awesome! I have eaten those before! They are really nice in eggs X^D

Hertha said...

You find the greatest flora to write about! This is one that there is not too much information about out that, from what I have seen at least. One thing I wonder if this is the same "witch butter" that was mentioned in trial records used to high the mark of the devil?

nefaeria said...

Thanks all!

Permie: Glad to see someone in our viewership has tried them. Thanks for the input. :)

Hertha: I'm not sure, but certainly worth the investigation!

Solace_Earth Deep said...

Love these in a nice hearty chicken soup thing for a cold *wink*