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JELLY EAR FUNGUS : Auricularia auricula-judae

Also called : Judas’s ear, wood ear.

You may come across these on decaying trees often sharing the surface with moss. They look velvety on the surface, yet soft, gelatinous and rubbery. They also remind of ears; a little disconcerting. Look for them in the damp and shady conditions they love, on trees like elder and beech. [Woodland Trust]. The shapes may vary slightly according to their age amd environment. 

The colour varies from tan brown to slightly reddish. 

According to the Woodland Trust : One of the jelly ear’s other common names is Judas’s ear. This name alludes to the fact that the ‘ears’ appear mostly on elder – the tree species that Judas hanged himself on after betraying Jesus Christ to his executioners. The legend is that the ‘ears’ which emerge from elder wood represent his tormented soul.

The Woodland Trust also tells us that Jelly ear is popular in Chinese cuisine, where it is known as ‘wood ears’. It was used medicinally until at least the 1860s, and it was thought that fungi that looked like body parts could be used to treat that body part. It was therefore used to treat eye conditions (as eyes are gelatinous like the fungus) and throat problems (as jelly ear’s structure was considered similar to the throat’s). Herbalist John Gerard recommended a remedy for sore throats made by boiling jelly ear in milk.

It also warns us not to confuse this fungus with bay cup, Peziza badia. which is poisonous.

These examples are all from the same dead tree in a garden above Renton in February.


WOODLAND TRUST : https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/trees-woods-and-wildlife/fungi-and-lichens/jelly-ear/

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