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Auricularia auricula: The Jelly Ear

[ Basidiomycetes > Auriculariales > Auriculaceae > Auricula ... ]

by Michael Kuo

The common name for this fungus, the "Jelly Ear," is very appropriate--a rarity with common names in English. Just take a look at the photos to the right, and you can see why people think Auricularia auricula looks like the missing part of a Van Gogh self portrait.

Unlike the cup fungi, this fungus has jelly-like flesh, and its spores are catapulted from little spore-holders, placing it in the Basidiomycetes rather than in the Ascomycetes, where spores are forcibly shot out of little spore-jets.


Ecology: Saprobic on decaying hardwood and conifer sticks and logs; spring, summer, and fall (sometimes even in winter); widely distributed in North America.

Fruiting Body: Wavy and irregular; typically ear-shaped; 2-15 cm; gathered together and attached at a central or lateral position; fertile surface (usually the "downward" one) gelatinous, tan to brown; sterile surface (usually the "upper" one) silky to downy, veined, irregular, brown; flesh thin, gelatinous-rubbery.

Spore Print: White.

Microscopic Features: Spores 12-19 x 4-8 µ; sausage shaped; smooth. Basidia cylindric; 3-septate (transversely); with 3 epibasidia; up to 80 x 8 µ. Upper surface with hyaline hairs to 200 x 8 µ.

In an unfortunate bit of antisemitism from the fathers of mycology, Auricularia auricula-judae is a synonym. Nina Marshall's 1902 explanation for the name, in The Mushroom Book, can be found to the right.

REFERENCES: (Linnaeus, 1753) Underwood, 1902. ( Bulliard, 1780; Fries, 1822; Saccardo, 1888; Smith, 1949; Lowy, 1971; Smith, 1975; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1981; Weber & Smith, 1985; Arora, 1986; States, 1990; Phillips, 1991/2005; Lincoff, 1992; Metzler & Metzler, 1992; Horn, Kay & Abel, 1993; Evenson, 1997; Barron, 1999; Roody, 2003; McNeil, 2006; Miller & Miller, 2006; Kuo, 2007.) Herb. Kuo 04179502, 05099501, 06130203, 04270702.

Further Online Information:

Auricularia auricula-judae at Roger's Mushrooms


Auricularia auricula

Auricularia auricula

Auricularia auricula

Auricularia auricula

Auricularia auricula

Cite this page as:

Kuo, M. (2002, June). Auricularia auricula: The jelly ear. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site:

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