Jellied Bird’s Nest Fungi

Two bird’s nest fungi belonging to the genus Nidula are common in the Pacific Northwest and Northern California where we live – wooly birdsnest fungus (Nidula niveotomentosa) and jellied bird’s nest fungus (Nidula candida). My last post, “Bird’s Nest Fungi” on 12-05-2014 described the wooly birdsnest fungus.

Recent rain, after nearly two years of drought, turned McArthur-Burney Falls State Park into a mycologist’s heaven. (No, I am not a mycologist, but find fungi fascinating.) It was there that I also found jellied bird’s nest fungi.

Nidula niveotomentosa and N. candida look similar at first glance. Both are very tiny, cupped shaped, covered by a “lid” (epiphragm) when young and have spore-containing “eggs” in a sticky gel within the cup.

The differences? The peridium (vertical wall) of jellied bird’s nest fungus is whitish beneath a shaggy, grey to brown or cinnamon layer while the wolly birdsnest fungus wall is white. The interior of the cup is smooth and white to yellowish brown. The peridioles (“eggs”) nested in the sticky gel of the jellied bird’s nest are buffy, grey or light brown (darker on the underside). Wooly birdsnest “eggs” are brown. Although their habitats overlap and both species are found on decaying wood, wooly birdnests are more often found associated with moss and jellied with soil.

The cups of both species are persistent and remnants of the cups can be found throughout the year, long after the “eggs” and spores formed in the fall and winter are dispersed.

The two species can be compared in the photographs. I was delighted to find both growing in the same general area.

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