Jelly Ear - A slimy fungus with an interesting story to tell

in naturalmedicine •  7 months ago 

I can probably guarantee that 90% of people who have ever gone for a walk in the woods have seen this mushroom. Whether they have noticed it or simply walked by without a second glance, they certainly must have seen it. It's EVERYWHERE! And its name is the Jelly Ear or Auricularia Auricula-Judae.

Jelly Ear

The Jelly Ear has lots of different names: Wood Ear, Jews Ear, Cloud Ear, Tree Ear, and much much more! The common word in all these: Ear. There is a very good reason for this, it looks like an ear. Jelly Ears are incredibly common in the British Isles. You'll mostly find them growing on dead branches or limbs from the Elder tree. This fact helps to reveal why a common name for this fungus is the Jews Ear. Simply put, the name comes from the story that Judas hung himself from an elder tree; and the fungus growing on the tree represented him. Nowadays, this name is no longer used as much, as it is deemed politically incorrect. Nothing really looks like it either, making it a pretty safe mushroom for the kitchen. One family of cup fungi could be mistaken for this fungus, but the key is that not only will it be growing from an elder tree, the cup will also be facing down. The Jelly Ear will often grow in abundance all along a branch or limb of a tree.

During the Summer, most of the Jelly Ears will completely dry up, making them slightly harder to identify. Although if you confidently identify them while they are dry, you won't have to spend lots of time drying them out for storage! I have always found the look and texture of these mushrooms quite repulsive, but in an attempt to be as open-minded as possible, I picked some last winter and tried them. I've mentioned this in a previous post, but simply frying them with butter will give you interesting results! They were not very nice. So, I simply ignored them from then on. I acknowledged my ignorance but I simply would not try them again! It was until I told one of my friends about this mushroom a few weeks ago that I once again became intrigued by this fungus. She told me that she recognized the mushroom and had eaten it in an Asian dish her mother and made before. The dish was called 'Nabe' which is basically a hot pot of meat, veg, and mushrooms in a broth. The name directly translates to "things in a pot" or "pot things". This is really where Jelly Ear lends itself best to, Asian cuisine.
Nabe, a traditional Japanese dish often including Jelly Ears

You can easily find Jelly Ears in supermarkets or oriental cuisine stores where you can find them in small packets for £5.00. This is, in my opinion, a ridiculous price for something that could be harvested by the kilogram in a single morning!

Warning: Never consume a mushroom without properly identifying it first. Always consult more than just one book or website. Incorrect identification of any fungus could be fatal. If in doubt, leave it out!

Photo Credits:
Japanese Cooking 101

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H-m-m! I'll have to go looking for it next summer when I'm in the southern part of the province. Elms don't grow up north here.
So glad you broke through your dislike for their taste enough so you were willing to try something new and that you could pass that interesting suggestion to try adding them to Asian dishes, like Nabe, on to us. Thanks for sharing!


Yes, I am glad too. I have now found many other ways in which to cook this mushroom but they are all quite similar. Most of them involve soups and broths. Probably because they don't have much taste! I always look for them in the winter because there are generally not so many of the 'choice edibles' around to be distracted with!



not so many of the 'choice edibles' around to be distracted with!

Do they have a slimy texture too?
I do like Asian soups and other mushroom soups. I'll have to try making some if I find any not so choice mushrooms.
I generally saute the edible mushrooms I find with butter and garlic.


That is the best way to cook most mushrooms!

Hi...interesting read, we buy the dried ones when we cook noodles, am just not sure if those jelly ears in the backyard are similar to them.
Buying them is less scary☺
One bit of advice, if you can just add the link of your references to your post and you'll be fine. Cheers!


Thanks for that @immarojas! If you aren't sure, consider doing some further research about similar looking mushrooms in your area, as different parts of the world have different fungi. Thank you for the advice! I'm just starting to learn about steemit and help like this really goes a long way!


Thanks bucks...we're in a tropical country so i think that indeed we differ with what sort that we have. We have the common mushrooms but have not seen anything similar to jelly ears.

Ask away if you need help. Putting our source in our post is acknowledging the works of other authors☺

As I have learnt by experience, even the same fungus live in poisonous tree, it can be poisonous as well, so it is really important to see where it live as well. I was told once by my survival mentor long ago about testing the fungus first before consume it in large amount. thank for this information, I thought it was completely not edible. Will try it when I find it next time.


Your survival mentor is a wise man! People often forget that just because a mushroom is edible, the environment in which it grew (trees, plants or other poisonous fungi nearby, etc) can make it inedible or even dangerous.

Brilliant. I used to find these a lot in England and sometimes here in Australia. Know them as Jews ears but it's not the most politically correct term... like blackboys here which are a form of grasstree.

I've never eaten them though!

Great post.. well written and detailed. X

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Yeah, I used to always call it the Jews Ear and I often still do! I try to avoid it sometimes though!


I didn't know about the name jelly ears, so I'm definitely going to call it that from now on because of this a very cute name anyway.

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Really interesting post @bucksforaging15! I've seen them before but not known they were an edible mushroom... although even the term Jelly Ear makes my stomach churn. Thanks for sharing!

We have a similar one in Oz but it's transparent. Tastes good but

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Such a wonderful post - foraging and preparing the mushrooms. Awesome! I'm an experienced mushroomer myself, though I now live in an arid area making them much rarer for me.

I found you because @porters featured you for the Pay it Forward Curation contest. Keep up the great work!