What You Should Know
Tremella encephala is a species of fungus producing pink, brain-like, gelatinous basidiocarps (fruit bodies). It is widespread in north temperate regions and is parasitic on another species of fungus (Stereum sanguinolentum), that grows on dead attached and recently fallen branches of conifers. Following its host, fruit bodies are typically found on the dead, attached, or recently fallen branches of conifers.
The species was first described in 1801, and even though over 200 years have passed, we’ve only recently figured out how it carries out its life cycle.
Tremella encephala Mushroom Identification
Gelatinous, dull pale pink to yellowish pink, up to 3 cm (1 in) across, and brain-like (compact and densely folded) with a hard, whitish core when cut.
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 unclamped hyphae of the host (abundant in the central core). The basidia are tremelloid (spherical to ellipsoid, with oblique to vertical septa), 13–20 by 12–17 μm, usually unstalked. The basidiospores are mostly roughly spherical in shape, smooth, 6–11 by 5.5–9 μm, and germinate by hyphal tube or by yeast cells.
Tremella encephala Taxonomy
Tremella encephala were first published in 1801 by Dutch mycologist Christiaan Hendrik Persoon, based on an earlier description by Carl Ludwig Willdenow who had described the species from Germany as Tremella encephaliformis. In 1818, it was selected by Elias Magnus Fries as the type species of Naematelia, a new genus proposed by Fries to accommodate fungi having gelatinous basidiocarps with a hard or compact core. It was not until 1961 that this central core was shown by American mycologist Robert Bandoni to be the remains of the host fungus, Stereum sanguinolentum.
The epithet encephala mean "brain", concerning the shape and color of the basidiocarps.
Photo 1 - Author: Ireen Trummer (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International)
Photo 2 - Author: Andreas Kunze (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)
Photo 3 - Author: Andreas Kunze (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)
Photo 4 - Author: Gerhard Koller (Gerhard) (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)