Identify Jelly Ear Mushrooms

Jelly Ear Mushroom (Auricularia auricula-judae)

Jelly Ear - Auricularia auricula-judae

How to Identify Jelly Ears
Wild Mushroom – Edible

Common names
Jelly Ears, Wood Ears

Botanical name
Auricularia auricula-judae

All year

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 classificationKingdom: Fungi, Division: Basidiomycota, Class: Agaricomycetes, Order: Auriculariales, Family: Auriculariaceae, Genus: Auricularia, Species: auricula-judae
Known hazardsShould 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 Plant ofUncertain, but the fungus is virtually always free of maggots

Range and distribution
Widespread throughout temperate and sub-tropical zones globally

HabitatOn dead or dying broadleaf wood, in particular Elder

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!

HerbalAn 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