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Yellow Brain

Inedible Inedible
Autumn Autumn
Spring Spring
Summer Summer
Winter Winter

A little gem that can be found at any time of year on dead branches and twigs. Even though it is not considered edible, it is always an interesting find.

Mushroom Type
Common Names Yellow Brain (EN), (Yellow) Witches' Butter, Ymennydd Yr Eithin (CY), Trzęsak Pomarańczowożółty (PL), Aranyos Rezgőgomba (HU)
Scientific Name Tremella mesenterica
Synonyms Tremella lutescens, Helvella mesenterica
Season Start All Year
Season End All Year
Average Mushroom height (CM)
Average Cap width (CM)
Please note that each and every mushroom you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.

Fruiting Body

More or less brain-like at the beginning, with the dimensions of 2–9 cm x 1–3 cm. Later it opens up and the lobes became more pronounced. Really variable by colour; it could be from dark orange to almost clear, watery yellow. It has a really complicated life cycle with dikaryotic conidial and haploid yeast stages, but that is way beyond the level of information a forager might need!


Yellow, soft, gelatinous. It dries and rehydrates well, in the same way as the Jelly Ear (Auricularia auricula-judae).


It looks like it’s growing on the dead branches and twigs of various deciduous trees, or on the decaying wood of Gorse, but it is actually a parasite, which is feeding on the mycelium of species from the genus Peniophora. In the UK, the most common hosts are Oak Crust (Peniophora quercina) on Oaks, Rosy Crust (Peniophora incarnata) on Gorse and various deciduous trees, and Peniophora cinerea on Willows and Hazel, etc.

Possible Confusion

Yellow Brain fungus has probably only one lookalike in the UK, Naematelia aurantia, syn: Tremella aurantia, which is a parasite of Hairy Curtain Crust (Stereum hirsutum), not one of the Peniophora species. I never seen it myself, nor do I have photo of it.
Orange Peel Fungus (Aleuria aurantia), pictured, could be mistaken for Yellow Brain but they grow in different habitats, Orange Peel Fungus is saprobic and grows in association with grass, Yellow Brain can be found as a fungal parasite on twigs and dead wood of deciduous trees.

Taste / Smell

Considered inedible. Taste and smell not distinctive.


Common and widespread in the British Isles. Growing individually.


Spores broadly ellipsoid, colourless (hyaline), and smooth.

Other Facts

None of the Tremella species are considered edible in the Western world, however, they are considered edible in Southeast Asia.
Snow Fungus (Tremella fuciformis) is an edible and medicinal mushroom, much larger and paler than Yellow Brain; it is cultivated in large scale in China for culinary and therapeutic purposes. It is also used in cosmetic products.


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