Moving forward ...

Moving forward ...

Moving forward, #BenInNature will highlight a previously posted nature update every Saturday and Sunday, but don't fret fans! New updates will continue to be posted Monday - Friday! The following post was originally published March 28, 2020.

When I was a little kid, I was always on the hunt for A Good Stick, which all little kids are able to easily identify. A Good Stick is one that is more or less straight and has enough structural integrity to poke any number of things without breaking. Often, I would find a stick that didn't pass muster, usually because it was rotting and crumbling apart. These reject sticks often had this weird yellow-orange fungus growing out of them, and I always wondered what it was. As it turns out, this is Tremella mesenterica, a common jelly fungus also known as yellow brain, yellow trembler or witches' butter. It's found on dead tree branches, and it's a parasitic fungus; however, it is not a parasite of the tree itself! It's actually a parasite of wood decay fungi in the genus Peniophora. The Peniophora fungi tend to grow underneath the bark of dead branches, and Tremella mesenterica parasitizes this fungi. When it comes time to reproduce, Tremella mesenterica grows a fruiting body — the spongy yellowish-orange mass seen here — which pushes through the bark and spreads its spores. When the fruiting body first forms, it is more of a yellow color and nearly translucent; as it ages and dries, the colors turn darker.

ABOUT #BenInNature
Social distancing can be difficult, but it presents a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. In this series of posts, Administrator of Science Ben Williams ventures outdoors to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world. New updates are posted Monday - Friday, with previous posts highlighted on the weekends.

If you discover something in nature that you would like help identifying, be sure to message us right here on Facebook with a picture (please include location and date of picture) and we'll have our experts help you identify it!

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