Saturday, 31 January 2015

I don't think you're ready for this jelly

On the 7th January I found this interesting orange fungi growing on a tree stump. I did not recognise it but it looked very distinctive and I took a photograph.

Common Jellyspot (Dacrymyces stillatus)

Despite looking in my books and on the internet when I got home I could not identify it, so i posted the picture onto iSpot. This started a very long-running debate, probably becoming one of the most commented posts of the year.

The inital identification of Wrinkled Crust (Phlebia radiata) was quickly questioned due to the growth pattern, not showing the radiating pattern usually seen. There was also a suggestion of this being a Brain Fungus (Tremella) species, but the isolated bodies did not look right. I was instructed to revisit the specimen to see if it was soft or firm, and it indeed had a jelly like consistency.

There was now some excitement that this could be a rare species, and I was asked by Malcolm Greaves to collect a few samples and send these to him, as he was so intrigued and wanted to solve the puzzle. This I duly did, and Malcom prepared the following slides of the spores and basidia.

Common Jellyspot (Dacrymyces stillatus) spores

Common Jellyspot (Dacrymyces stillatus) basidia

As Malcolm commented in his email

"I have attached a photo of the spores and the basidia. At first I thought the spores I saw must be from a different source because they did not fit with any of the likely id suggestions. A second slide just confirmed that it was definitely “none of the above” with septate spores and long thin forked basidia. The size and shape of the spores and the basidia are perfect for Dacrymyces stillatus but I have never seen one looking like your photo."

Malcolm then sent these pictures to a contact at Kew, who confirmed his suspicions that this was an unusual form of Common Jellyspot (Dacrymyces stillatus). Mystery solved then, a shame that this turned out to be a common species but still a new one for my 1km square.

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