Quick facts

Common names: porcelain fungus, poached egg fungus, slimy beech tuft

Scientific name: Oudemansiella mucida

Family: Physalacriaceae

Fruiting season: late summer to early winter

Habitat: dead beech trees, or dead branches on living beech trees

What does porcelain fungus look like?

Porcelain fungus measures up to 8cm tall and 8cm across. It can smother dead beech trees while fending off its rivals.

Cap: a translucent white or ivory domed cap which flattens as it ages, developing an ochre flush in the centre. Covered with a mucous slime, very shiny in wet weather.

Gills/spores: underneath the cap, the gills are white. The spores are smooth, round and very thick-walled. Its spore print is white.

Stipe (stalk): the tough stem has a ring which looks like a neat white collar. It is able to curl over so the cap is turned upside down.

Porcelain fungus growing on fallen tree

Credit: Arco Images Gmbh / Alamy Stock Photo

Where to find porcelain fungus

They are common and widespread in the UK and Ireland and throughout northern Europe where beech trees grow. They grow on tree trunks and fallen branches of dead beech trees, or on dead branches on living beech trees, often high up, in large tufts.

Did you know?

On breezy autumn days you may see what look like tiny parachutes falling from beech trees after the fungi have been dislodged by the wind.

Value to wildlife

Flies have been known to lay their eggs on porcelain fungus. This fungus is also involved in nutrient cycling.

Multiple porcelain fungus

Credit: Blickwinkel / Alamy Stock Photo

Uses of porcelain fungus

It can completely take over a dead tree, and fights off rival fungi with its own powerful fungicide. Studies in the 1980s led to the creation of a safe and effective group of agricultural fungicides called 'the strobilurins', which have improved yields of wheat and fruit crops by protecting them from powdery mildew attacks. Edible once the slime is washed off and the stem removed, it is said to have a good, rich flavour. It should be cooked before consumption.

Did you know?

When porcelain fungi grow underneath a fallen tree trunk or branch their stems curl over so the caps face inwards and their gills face outwards.