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''Nostoc'', also known as
star jelly Star jelly (also called astromyxin, astral jelly) is a gelatinous substance sometimes found on grass or even on branches of trees. According to folklore, it is deposited on the Earth during meteor showers. Star jelly is described as a translucent or ...
, troll’s butter, witch's butter (not to be confused with witches' butter), and witch’s jelly, is a genus of cyanobacteria found in various environments that forms
colonies In political science, a colony is a territory subject to a form of foreign rule. Though dominated by the foreign colonizers, colonies remain separate from the administration of the original country of the colonizers, the metropole, metropolitan ...
composed of filaments of moniliform cells in a gelatinous sheath. The name ''Nostoc'' was coined by
Paracelsus Paracelsus (; c. 1493 – 24 September 1541), born Theophrastus von Hohenheim (full name Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim), was a Swiss physician, alchemist Alchemy (from Arabic: ''al-kīmiyā''; from Ancient Greek: ' ...

Paracelsus
. ''Nostoc'' can be found in
soil Soil is a mixture In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that covers the Chemical element, elements that make up matter to the chemical compound, comp ...

soil
, on moist rocks, at the bottom of lakes and springs (both fresh- and saltwater), and rarely in marine habitats. It may also grow
symbiotically
symbiotically
within the tissues of
plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to Energy transformation, convert light energy into chemical energy that, through cellular respiration, can later be released to fuel ...

plant
s, providing
nitrogen Nitrogen is the chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science ...

nitrogen
to its host through the action of terminally differentiated cells known as heterocysts. These bacteria contain photosynthetic pigments in their cytoplasm to perform
photosynthesis Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to convert Conversion or convert may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media * Conversion (Doctor Who audio), "Conversion" (''Doctor Who'' audio), an episode of the audio drama ' ...

photosynthesis
.


Species

''Nostoc'' is a member of the family
Nostocaceae The Nostocaceae are a family of cyanobacteria Cyanobacteria , also known as Cyanophyta, are a phylum of Gram-negative bacteria Gram-negative bacteria are bacteria that do not retain the crystal violet stain used in the Gram stain, gram-sta ...
of the order
Nostocales The Nostocales are an order of cyanobacteria containing most of its species. It includes filamentous forms, both simple or branched, and both those occurring as single strands or multiple strands within a sheath. Some members show a decrease in w ...
. Species include (see collapsed list on the right for full listing) : *'' Nostoc azollae'' *'' Nostoc caeruleum'' Lyngbye ex Bornet et Flahault *'' Nostoc carneum'' *''
Nostoc comminutum ''Nostoc'', also known as star jelly Star jelly (also called astromyxin, astral jelly) is a gelatinous substance sometimes found on grass or even on branches of trees. According to folklore, it is deposited on the Earth during meteor showers. St ...
'' *''
Nostoc commune ''Nostoc commune'' is a species of cyanobacterium in the Family (biology), family Nostocaceae. Common names include star jelly, witch's butter, mare's eggs, fah-tsai and facai. It is the type species of the genus ''Nostoc'' and is Cosmopolitan di ...

Nostoc commune
'' (Linnaeus) Vaucher ex Bornet et Flahault (
Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, with a populat ...
: ''Koxianmi'') *'' Nostoc ellipsosporum'' *'' Nostoc flagelliforme'' *'' Nostoc linckia'' *'' Nostoc longstaffi'' *'' Nostoc microscopicum'' (Carmichael ex Harvey) Bornet et Flahault *'' Nostoc muscorum'' *'' Nostoc paludosum'' *'' Nostoc pruniforme'' (Linnaeus) C. A. Agardh ex Bornet et Flahault *''
Nostoc punctiforme ''Nostoc punctiforme'' is a species of filamentous cyanobacteria, cyanobacterium. Under non-limiting nutritional environmental conditions, its filaments are composed of Photosynthesis, photosynthetic vegetative cells; upon nutrient limitation, som ...
'' *'' Nostoc sphaericum'' *'' Nostoc sphaeroides'' *'' Nostoc spongiaeforme'' *'' Nostoc thermotolerans'' *'' Nostoc verrucosum'' Vaucher ex Bornet et Flahault


Nonscientific nomenclature

When it is on the ground, a ''Nostoc'' colony is ordinarily not seen, but after a rain, it swells up into a conspicuous, jellylike mass, which was once thought to have fallen from the sky, hence the popular names,
star jelly Star jelly (also called astromyxin, astral jelly) is a gelatinous substance sometimes found on grass or even on branches of trees. According to folklore, it is deposited on the Earth during meteor showers. Star jelly is described as a translucent or ...
, troll’s butter, witch's butter (not to be confused with the fungus ''''), and witch’s jelly.


Culinary use

Containing protein and
vitamin C Vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid and ascorbate) is a vitamin A vitamin is an organic molecule , CH4; is among the simplest organic compounds. In chemistry, organic compounds are generally any chemical compounds that contain ca ...

vitamin C
, ''Nostoc'' species are cultivated and consumed as a foodstuff, primarily in Asia. The species '' N. flagelliforme'' and '''' are consumed in
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

China
, where it was used to survive famines. The preferred variety in
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afghanistan and Iran in the south to Russia in the north, including the former Soviet Union, Soviet republics of the Sov ...

Central Asia
is '' N. ellipsosporum''.


References


Citations


General sources

* * *Davidson, Alan. Oxford Companion to Food (1999), "Nostoc".


External links

* ''Nostoc'' spec. in lichens * {{Taxonbar, from=Q311257 Nostocaceae Cyanobacteria genera