Auricularia auricula-judae (Bull.) Quél.
Index Fungorum number: xxx; Facefungi number:xxx
The sporocarp of Auricularia auricula-judae is generally 3 to 8 cm across, but it can be up to 12 cm. Its shape resembles a floppy ear, although the fruit body can also be cup-shaped. The back surface of the cup is usually attached to the substrate, although there can also be a rudimentary stem. The fresh body has a hard, gelatinous, elastic texture; which dries out to become hard and brittle. The outmost surface is, for the most part, covered with tiny, grey downy hairs. The surface is a bright reddish-tan-brown with a purplish hint. The colour becomes darker over time. The inner touch is smooth and light grey to brown in colour. In common with other jelly fungi, A. auricula-judae sporocarps contain high levels of polysaccharides and these are the main bioactive component, although phenols have also been shown to contribute to the total antioxidant capacity. (Fig. 1)
Common names: Jew’s ear, Jelly ear, Judas’ ear (English); Kikurage (Japanese); Mu er / Wood ear (Chinese), Hed hu nu (Thailand and Laos).
Uses: This has been used as a medicinal mushroom in China for many centuries, particularly to cure haemorrhoids and strengthen the body and sometimes, to treat haemoptysis, angina, diarrhoea, and ward against gastrointestinal problems. It was used in folk medicine as recently as the 19th century for complaints including sore throats, sore eyes and jaundice, and as an astringent. At present, this fungus is a popular component in many Chinese dishes, such as hot and sour soup. Through various experiments, it has been concluded that the fungus bears anti-tumour, hypoglycemic, anticoagulant and cholesterol-lowering properties.
Time of fruiting: Normally this species appears at the beginning of the rainy season. In Thailand, Laos, and China, June and July are the best time for this species.
Habitat: This species grows upon old rotten wood of deciduous trees and shrubs. It also forms on branches of frondose trees, usually elder. In Australia it was reported that the fungus was found in Eucalyptus woodland and rainforests, in which it grows in very large colonies whereas in Thailand, Laos and China it grows on dead wood of broadleaved trees.
Distribution: This fungus has been recorded in temperate and sub-tropical zones worldwide, around Europe, North America, Asia (including Thailand, Laos and China), Australia, South America and Africa.
Fig. 1 The basidiomata of Auricularia auricula-judae in feild.
Mortimer P. E., Xu J., Karunarathna S. C. & Hyde K. D. 2014– Mushrooms for trees and people: a field guide to useful mushrooms of the Mekong region. Kunming: The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).