Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Black Witches Butter {Exidia glandulosa}

Photo from AnneTanne

Other Names: Black Faery/Fairy Butter, Black Jelly Fungus, Black Jelly Roll, Warty Jelly, Devil's Butter, Troll-Smor.

Description: One could not say with a straight face that Black Witches Butter is a pretty fungus, and I have come across a few that are very reminiscent of poop. But physical beauty is certainly not everything!

Black Witches Butter is a jelly fungus, just like the similarly named Gold Witches Butter. It is anywhere from a greenish brown to almost black in colour, and comes in masses up to 30 cm in diameter. Although generally jelly-like, when in very dry weather, it becomes crusty and can sometimes look like a completely different fungus. It can be found in North America and in many places in Europe.

Warnings: As with all herbs, one should make sure to be thoroughly informed before ingesting them, and is best to do so under the guidance of a qualified healer.

I have not ingested it myself, so I am certainly not qualified to say if Black Witches Butter is edible or not. There also seems to be quite a wide disagreement on its edibility, so with that said, it is probably best to err on the side of caution.

Photo from Cornell Fungi

Cultivating: Black Witches Butter is a fairly common sight in hard and mixed wood forests, most often seen in cooler regions. It is generally found on recently fallen hardwood branches, especially on those that once belong to an oak, birch, and alder tree. The fruits are seen in Spring and Autumn, and sometimes during a cool period in Summer and a warm one in Winter.
Medicinal/Remedial Properties and Lore: In Asia, many different jelly fungi have been used for their healing properties for hundreds of years. They are most coveted for being immune boosters, and to help with health conditions effecting circulation and breathing.

According to The Hiker's Notebook, jelly fungi have been found to:

...reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol and are useful in the treatment of allergies and diabetes.

The Hiker's Notebook goes on to say:

A group of Israeli and Ukrainian researchers evaluated fungi of the Tremella genus in 2000 and confirmed that they exhibited antitumor properties and that they could be used to "improve immunodeficiency … and to prevent senile degeneration of microvessels."

Photo from amadej2008

Magical/Spiritual Properties and Lore: In Popular Names of British Plants by Dr. R.C. Alexander Prior, it got its name from:

its buttery appearance, and unaccountably rapid growth in the night, which has given rise to a superstitious belief, still prevalent in Sweden, that witches milk the cows, and scatter about the butter on the ground.

The authors of English Botany give credit Johann Jacob Dillenius for inspiring the name, because according to him, Black Witches Butter was thrown on a pyre to counteract malignant witchcraft.

I have personally used it in this manner for banishing magic, and have found it quite effective. I have some in my possession and will be using it for this purpose again soon.

Other Uses: None really that I know of, although it could be perhaps used in a prank to mimic poop! ;)



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