Witches Butter


Nostoc commune – Is it a fungus? Is it an algae? When I first came across this strange toffee coloured, jellied mass covering the entire roof of a garage complex, I had no idea what it was. At first I thought it was an algae, especially as most of it appeared to be thriving in pools of stagnent water, and then finally decided it must be some species of jellied fungus. I was also reminded of an old movie called The Blob starring Steve McQueen, but I was wrong on all accounts. After some Google investigations I discovered to my utter surprise that it was in fact a bacteria, a cyanobacterium, to be precise.

You can learn much more about this remarkable organism via the Witches Butter page.


Witches Butter Nostoc commune

Witches Butter Nostoc commune

© Peter Hillman ♦ 9th January 2013 ♦ urban garage block, Staffordshire ♦ Panasonic DMC-FZ38


17 thoughts on “Witches Butter

  1. That is different from our witches’ butter that is a fungus. I’ve never posted one on the blog so here is a link to a page showing some. As you can tell, ours is a bright orange. I’ve not seen anything like yours although I have come across my share of gooey messes. I imagine you will get a couple of “icks” for this one. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A fungi was one of my thoughts at first as referenced via your link. But this covered the whole roof of a garage block virtiually in its entirity, which made me quite curious and to look much deeper. Not the sort of butter to spread on your toast in the morning.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. . . . unless you’re a rather very special sort of witch–which I’m quite happy to say that I’m not. I’ve seen our U.S. variety a number of times, but yours is new to me, too.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. That reply must be worth 5 icks! How low can you go? (nah, I don’t really want you to answer that). 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Fascinating stuff. It almost looks like some sort of rubber or plastic sheet all scrunched up. I never would have guessed it to be a natural phenomenon.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, that’s grossly fascinating! Its scientific name sounds like the beginning of some kind of spell or hex. 🧙‍♀️

    Liked by 2 people

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