It’s amazing what you can find when you slow down from the busy rush of the day and go wandering around for a peaceful walk instead, like a tree covered in star jelly. This strange and rare substance has been baffling scientists for centuries and the cause of it remains unknown even to modern studies. According to ancient medical texts dating from as early as the thirteenth century, this translucent gelatinous phenomenon is the remnants of stars that have fallen to earth, being called various names along that theme such as star-slime, star-shot, or astral jelly.
Many different theories have been put forth as to what this substance really is because space jelly seems pretty far fetched but surprisingly it’s at least as believable as the alternative suggestions. The most plausible of the explanations is a fungus called Tremella fuciformis, or white jelly mushroom, which bears a similar resemblance of a frosty translucency but grows in frond-like clusters that look more like an ocean plant, whereas star jelly is a bit more translucent and a little less milky in color and forms in clumps with a consistency of jello. Several other slime molds are also offered as potential candidates for star jelly, but they bear even less physical similarities to star jelly examples than the white jelly mushroom.
Another unlikely but popular theory is that star jelly is really partially digested spawn jelly from frogs or toads that has been regurgitated by predators, or possibly even the oviducts of an eaten amphibian. Examples of these regurgitated bits have been studied and photographed, but also don’t visually resemble the substance we call star jelly which maintains consistent characteristics without much variation.
Some also have suggested a freshwater algae as the culprit, however the algae would have to do some pretty significant stunt work to lose its green color and deteriorate into a gel rather than the mush plant material it very clearly looks like. It also doesn’t explain the examples of star jelly found in places like on trees or on farmland away from water bodies.
Despite the unlikeliness of a jelly substance surviving a fall to earth from space on the tail of a shooting star, many of the reports of star jelly have been linked to meteor showers and falling stars seeming to occur the morning after the nighttime aerial display.