If you are a keen observer of the world of nature when you are in the midst of it, you may have seen a gelatinous blob of something on an old log, or even appearing on the ground as if it had been deposited from something in the trees above (cue up creepy music)
So, you carefully steered around it--not wanting to get it on your shoe. It looked just like something out of the "Alien" movies, and you were sure that it was acidic and would eat right up through the soles of your shoes...and then eat through your feet. Where would it have stopped? Ha! Couldn't stop myself...the stuff creepy stories are made of: "The Blob" anyone?
There are many types of jelly fungus, and again, for the sake of brevity, I will pare it down. Let me tell you about Tremella mesenterica or otherwise known as "witches' butter". I could bedazzle you with the scientific mumbo jumbo, but, hey, you can check that out for yourself, here. And, I would only be quoting the same Wiki article. We don't memorize the nomenclature or the DNA stuff, etc. Well, maybe some people do. Not me. A valuable thing I learned in Master Gardener's class is that no one needs to know it all. They just need to know where to find the information when they need it. We just hang onto memory prompts--like my memory of dodging the stuff every time I've ever seen it.
But, I will share a couple of the superstitions behind it. Keeping in mind, these are old beliefs from a very naive and superstitious time.
As the name suggests, it was believed to have been consumed by witches. But...who produced it? European superstition holds that the appearance of it is associated with a hex or a spell. And the only way to break the spell was to poke holes in the jelly-like substance. Its mysterious appearance at locations that seemed to have no relation one to the other, contributed to the lack of understanding its origins.
It was also believed to have been a magical ointment of unknown ingredients that possessed mysterious powers.
For a writer, disgusting jelly fungus could fuel a scene, a story, or a book... ha! Or not....
But at least we now know, it's not the spit or spore of an alien--and it doesn't eat through shoes.