Neobulgaria pura (Fr.) Petr. - Beech Jellydisc

Phylum: Ascomycota - Class: Leotiomycetes - Order: Helotiales - Family:  Helotiaceae

Neobulgaria pura - Beech Jellydisc, mature specimens

Formerly-used synonyms of this jelly-like fungus include Bulgaria pura. Unlike Bulgaria inquinans, which sometimes fruits on dying branches of living trees, Neobulgaria pura is invariably found on fallen trunks and branches of broadleaf hardwood trees, and in particular Beech trees – hence the common name.

The form shown here is properly cited as Neobulgaria pura var. pura; a more contorted form also occurs and it is referred to as Neobulgaria pura var. foliacea.

Neobulgaria pura - Beech Jellydisc, young specimens

Distribution

An uncommon but far from rare woodland species in Britain and Ireland, Neobulgaria pura is found also throughout mainland Europe.

Taxonomic history

The basionym of this species was defined by the great Swedish mycologist Elias Magnus Fries in his 1822 publication Systema Mycologicum. The currently accepted scientific name of this species was established in 1921 by Austrian mycologist Franz Petrak (1886 - 1973).

Synonyms of Neobulgaria pura include Bulgaria pura Fr., and Neobulgaria pura (Fr.) Petr.

Neobulgaria pura is the type species of its genus, which was circumscribed by Petrak in 1921.

Despite the word 'Jelly' appearing in its common name and very well reflecting its texture, this is not one of the hererobasidiomycetes 'Jelly Fungi' which belong to the - Class Basidiomycota. Neobulgaria pura belongs to the Ascomycota, as also does its swarthy lookalike Bulgaria inquinans.

In 1969 Neobulgaria pura var. foliacea (Bres.) Dennis & Gamundí was separated from the nominate form Neobulgaria pura var. pura; it is similar but has ripple-folded (brain-like) fruitbodies rather than individual 'buttons'. Older synonyms of this variety include Coryne foliacea Bres., and Neobulgaria foliacea (Bres.) Dennis.

Neobulgaria pura - Beech Jellydisc, Somerset

Etymology

Neobulgaria, the genus name, may be a reference to the leathery skin - a bulgar was a leather pounch within which wine was carried. (The neo- prefix suggests something new or recent, but it can also mean 'similar to'.) Any other suggestions would be most welcome! Much more straightforward, the specific epithet pura comes from the Latin adjective purum and means pure or clean.

Identification guide

Neobulgaria pura var. pura - individual fruitbody

Fruitbody

Pinkish-ochre, gelatinous fruitbodies initially shaped like spinning tops but eventually distorting as they push up against one another in groups; becoming more cup-like. This species is quite variable in size, the individual cups being typically 0.4 to 1.5cm across and up to 8mm tall.

A brain-like form, Neobulgaria pura var. foliacea has a folded structure.

Asci of Neobulgaria pura

Asci and Paraphyses

Eight spored asci interspersed with narrow cylindrical or slightly clavate paraphyses 70-95µm x 7-8µm.

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Spores of Neobulgaria pura

Spores

Ellipsoidal, smooth, 6.5-9 x 3-4.5µm; each spore containing two small oil drops.

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Spore print

White

Odour/taste

Not distinctive.

Habitat & Ecological role

On fallen broad-leaved trees, particularly Beech and oaks.

Season

Summer and autumn.

Similar species

Bulgaria inquinans is similar in form but black or very dark brown.

Reference Sources

Fascinated by Fungi, Pat O'Reilly 2016.

Dennis, R.W.G. (1981). British Ascomycetes; Lubrecht & Cramer; ISBN: 3768205525.

Breitenbach, J. & Kränzlin, F. (1984). Fungi of Switzerland. Volume 1: Ascomycetes. Verlag Mykologia: Luzern, Switzerland.

Medardi, G. (2006). Ascomiceti d'Italia. Centro Studi Micologici: Trento.

Dictionary of the Fungi; Paul M. Kirk, Paul F. Cannon, David W. Minter and J. A. Stalpers; CABI, 2008

Taxonomic history and synonym information on these pages is drawn from many sources but in particular from the British Mycological Society's GB Checklist of Fungi and (for basidiomycetes) on Kew's Checklist of the British & Irish Basidiomycota.

Neobulgaria pura - Beech Jellydisc, England

Acknowledgements

This page includes a picture kindly contributed by David Kelly.

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