Phylum: Basidiomycota - Class: Dacrymycetes - Order: Dacrymycetales - Family: Dacrymycetaceae
Gregarious or in merging groups on dead conifer wood, including fence posts and rails, this rather uncommon fungus has a preference for timber that is already fairly well rotted.
The fruitbodies can appear at any time of the year during periods of wet weather; this is not a very helpful identification feature, however, as it is a characteristic shared with many of the other members of the order Dacrymycetales.
Very rarely recorded in Britain, Dacrymyces chrysospermus is much more common and widespread in North America.
In 1873 this fungus was described by British Mycologist Miles Joseph Berkley (1803 - 1889) and New Zealander Moses Ashley Curtis, who gave it the name Dacrymyces chrysospermus; this remains its generally-accepted scientific name.
Synonyms of Dacromyces chrysospermus include Tremella palmata Schwein., and Dacrymyces palmatus (Schwein.) Bres.
Set up by Nees in 1816, the genus Dacrymyces is named from Dacry- meaning a tear (as in weeping) and -myces meaning fungus, while the specific epithet chrysospermus comes from Chrys- meaning golden and -spermus meaning seed. (The spores of this fungus are indeed yellow when seen in mass.)
Orange-yellow, but almost white at the point of attachment, becoming reddish-brown and more translucent when dry; irregularly lobed or brain-like blobs, slightly flattened; 1 to 2.5cm tall and up to 6cm wide.
Sausage-shaped, smooth, thin-walled, 18-23 x 6.5-8µm; 7-septate to 9-septate (spores developing 7 to 9 cross walls) at maturity.
Habitat & Ecological role
On rotting trunks and stumps of dead conifers.
Fruiting from spring to the onset of winter.
Dacrymyces stillatus, another orange jelly-like species, produces smaller, cushion-like fruitbodies and occurs on hardwoods as well as softwoods.
Tremella mesenterica produces fruitbodies of similar colour but the lobes are often larger and generally more convoluted; its spores are white.
Fascinated by Fungi, 2nd Edition, Pat O'Reilly 2016, reprinted by Coch-y-bonddu Books in 2022.
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.
This page includes pictures kindly contributed by Doug Holland.
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