(Jelly ear, Wood ear, Judas's Ear, Auricularia auricula-judae)
Our wood ear grows on conifer logs and sticks. It can be very abundant on Douglas fir in Colorado. It is most noticeable right after periods of rain when it will turn gelatinous. When dry it is much darker in and becomes hard. In fact you may not recognize it until it does rain enough to bring it out. Look for fallen fir trees on the ground. A similar smaller fungus Exidia recisa grows on Gambel's Oak in Colorado.
A close relative Auricularia has been used for centuries in China as both a food and medicine. It can be found in Chinese restaurants in Hot & Sour soup, egg rolls and other dishes. I've also seen it used in the Korean sweet potato noodle dish Japchae. It is a tasteless fungus which takes on any flavor you give it.
Auricularia angiospermarum is a close relative that grows on broad leaf trees in North America.
Auricularia heimuer is a close relative from Asia that is cultivated in China.
Auricularia auricula-judae is actually a European species.
DNA sequencing has helped to separate all of these out. We once called them all Auricularia auricula-judae.
The name Judas's ear originated from Judas Iscariot who was one of the twelve original apostles of Jesus. He committed suicide by hanging himself on an Elm tree. Later it grew this fungus which appeared to be ears. It was said that these were the ears of Judas. It has also been known as the Jew's ear mushroom.
Jan 24 2023 09:38 AM
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