Perhaps it is the nature of fungus to be disgusting? Maybe they exist on some other level that demands grossness? Some union thing? Spiritually one could see it as a physical manifestation of wickedness—a glimpse into the darkness that dwells within the fungus’ soul. I mean, who really knows? Regardless of the reasoning, one thing is certain—fungi tend to be featured in Garden of Horrors much more than plants. They always put their best (worst?) “foot” forward, and today’s entry is no different.

Meet Ascocoryne sarcoides, more commonly called “jelly drops” or “purple jellydisc” by people with a much brighter outlook on life than me. Because I think we all know what this looks like and it ain’t no “jellydisc.” I mean… look at this thing:

Ascocoryne sarcoides
The fungus Ascocoryne sarcoides. Photographed in Pacific Spirit Park, Vancouver BC Canada – Photo by Daryl Thompson

“Jelly” isn’t the first word that comes to mind. I don’t want to spread this on toast. You can find these ugly little fungi all over the world. Various species are found in North Ameria, Northern Europe, parts of Asia, Australia, and down in South America. It gets around. A. sarcoides derives its nutrients from decomposing plant matter—usually trees, but species of choice tend to vary based on location. It’s not a picky eater.

While it took a while for scientists to land on a species name, they settled on the Greek word “sarkodes” fairly early on, it charmingly means “fleshy” or “flesh-like.” An indication of what this thing feels like when touched. Neat. I think it’s clear why this is the perfect addition to our terrible little garden. It looks like the remains of gelatinous innards spattered on the ground. It’s revolting and a touch horrific.

While the A. sarcoides has minor antibiotic properties, it’s not edible. So don’t put it in your mouth! Quick aside: it amuses me that this comes up all the time. Who would attempt this? What person would look at Guts Mc Fungus there and wonder if they could eat it? I don’t get it. I don’t understand people.

This is the part of Garden of Horrors where I like to share a video showing this thing growing. But thankfully, videos like that don’t exist! So, we’ll just have to make do with this short video of a guy poking at one.

Featured image by Stu’s Images

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