Tom Volk's Fungus of the Month for October 2000
This month's fungus is Tremella mesenterica, witch's butter
For the rest of my pages on fungi, please click http://TomVolkFungi.net
It's Halloween month again! If you've been following my web pages, you know that for previous Octobers' Fungus of the Month features I've had Omphalotus olearius (the Jack-O-Lantern mushroom) and Claviceps purpurea (cause of ergotism-- and likely contributor to the Salem Witch Trials), so the next fun choice for this October's fungus is the jelly fungus Tremella mesenterica, better known as witch's butter.
Why the curious name for such an innocuous-looking fungus? Well according to some eastern European legends, this fungus appears on your gate or on the entrance to your house when you have been put under a spell by a witch! The only way to get rid of the hex is to prick the witch's butter with straight pins, which makes the inner juices of the fruiting body leak out, killing the fungus, thus allowing you to live your life witch-free once again. I'm guessing the witch's butter hex is probably not a true story, but I'm not taking any chances...