Jelly fungi and wood-ear

Jelly fungi are basidiomycetes, related to the mushrooms but phylogenetically quite distant, with a specialised kind of basidium (the cells on which the spores are formed). The jelly fungi are common in New Zealand forests as saprobes on dead wood. The fruiting bodies of all of them have a tough, rubbery texture. They take many kinds of forms, only the larger, more distinctive ones are mentioned here. Calocera, with an upright, narrow fruiting body could be confused for a coral fungus, but flesh of coral fungi is soft and delicate compared to the rubbery texture of the jelly fungi. Auricularia, the wood-ear fungus, has a form resembling some of the leathery bracket fungi, but again the flesh has a rubbery texture.


NameImageDescriptionNZFungi Entry


The wood-ear fungus, saprobic on dead wood. Rubbery fruiting bodies, attached laterally with no stalk, smooth underneath. Often in large groups. Edible and used widely in Chinese cuisine. Formed the basis of one of New Zealand’s early export industries. Also eaten by Maori and known by several names, including harakeke.


Characterised by the fruiting body being cylindrical, upright, often pointed, simple or branched, flesh zoned in transverse section. Saprobic on wood. Five species have been reported from New Zealand.


Pseudohydnum has a single species in New Zealand. The robust but almost translucent fruiting bodies are characterised by being covered by small teeth on the underside of the 'cap'.
Saprobic on fallen wood.


Tremella species have fruiting bodies up to about 5 cm across, made up of a series of irregular, flattened lobes. There are several species reported from New Zealand. The white T. fuciformis is the most common, and in Asia is cultivated as an edible mushroom. Other New Zealand species include the yellow or orange-coloured T. lutescens, T. mesenterica and T. tawa,...