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Group of Fungi: Jelly Fungi
Latin Name: Auricularia auricula-judae (Bull.) Quél. 1886
Common Name: Wood Ear
Description: Flattened ear-like or cuplike structure arising from a narrow base, usually 1–4 in (2.5–10 cm) across and 1/8 in (0.3 cm) thick, rubbery when moist but hard when dry, upper surface smooth and lower surface often appearing wrinkled or veined, both surfaces orange-brown to dark reddish brown; spores white in mass.
Biological Role: Decomposer of wood.
Habitat: Commonly occurring in overlapping clusters on decorticated (without bark) logs, stumps and fallen branches of both conifers and broadleaf trees.
Geographical Distribution: Found throughout North America.
Comments: Auricularia auricula is an easily recognized edible fungus that is often collected for the table. Unlike most jelly fungi, the fruiting bodies are large enough to make a reasonable meal. A closely related species (Auricularia polytricha) is widely cultivated and sold in markets throughout Asia.