Jelly Ear Mushroom (Auricularia auricula-judae) Identification

Jelly Ear Mushroom/ All Year Round/ Edible

 

Jelly Ear Mushrooms are a delightful edible mushroom and although they can be found all year, early spring is when they’re most prolific.


Common names

Jelly Ears, Wood Ears


Botanical name

Auricularia auricula-judae


Season

All year


Foraging Video


Meaning of scientific name

Auricularia and auricula are both derived from the Latin word for “ear”. Judae means Judas, the disciple who is named as betraying Jesus Christ in the Christian Bible – see folklore.


Scientific classification

Kingdom: Fungi, Division: Basidiomycota, Class: Agaricomycetes, Order: Auriculariales, Family: Auriculariaceae, Genus: Auricularia, Species: auricula-juda


Known hazards

Should be avoided by those with haemophilia or taking blood thinners


Could be confused with

Other cup fungus although the Jelly/Wood Ear always has its “cup” hanging down. Other cup fungus have an upright cup


Food of

Uncertain, but the fungus is virtually always free of maggots


Range and distribution

Widespread throughout temperate and sub-tropical zones globally


Habitat

On dead or dying broadleaf wood, in particular, Elder

Click here to see our Identify Elder guide


Physical characteristics

Brown and very much resembling a human ear in look and texture. Its cup hangs down towards the ground. In dry weather, it shrivels to a fraction of its hydrate size and becomes almost black. It rehydrates after rain.


Folklore, tall tales, and not so folklore:

There is a belief that Judas Iscariot hung himself on an elder after betraying Jesus Christ. The ears are a sign of his tormented spirit being trapped in the tree. However, the elder is a very weak tree and unable to support the weight of a human adult


Edible use

Jell Ear’s ability to dehydrate and rehydrate means it is excellent for long-term storage. It can be rehydrated in strong-flavoured sauces and will take up those flavours. Its texture lends itself towards oriental cuisine, however, soaked in strong fruit juice and covered in chocolate, it makes an interesting confectionery.

Avoid frying in oil as it will explode!

Another way to enjoy this is in something called a wood ear salad, soy sauce, sesame seed oil, chicken stock & light salad greens – it’s beautiful.

Any recipes that calls for the cultivated wood ear mushroom can be made using jelly ear mushrooms 🙂

Here’s a link to some nice wood ear mushroom recipes


Herbal

An acidic polysaccharide (containing mannose, glucose, glucuronic acid and xylose) within the mushroom has been found to have some effect on reducing blood coagulation. Research is continuing into its use as an antithrombotic

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