Wood Ear

(Auricularia angiospermarum)

Conservation Status
Wood Ear
Photo by Greg Watson
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNR - Unranked


not listed


There are at least three Auricularia species in North America: Jelly Tree Ear (Auricularia americana) grows on conifers; Wood Ear (Auricularia angiospermarum) grows on hardwoods and is widespread; and Auricularia fuscosuccinea (no common name) grows on hardwoods. The first two of these occur in Minnesota, the third is restricted to the southeast.

Wood Ear is a gelatinous ear-like fungus. It occurs in the United States from Connecticut to Georgia, west to Minnesota, Missouri, and eastern Texas; in southern Quebec and Ontario Canada; and in Mexico. There is a disjunct population in southern Arizona, a region that hosts many otherwise eastern species. There is also a single record of it in Washington State. The exact distribution of this species is yet to be determined since it was included within A. auricula or A. auricula-judae prior to 2015. It is not uncommon.

Wood Ear is found in spring, summer, and fall, alone, in clusters, or close together but not clustered (gregarious). It grows on decaying sticks, logs, and stumps of hardwoods. It obtains its nutrients from dead wood (saprobic).

The fruiting body is brown to reddish-brown, wavy, variable in size, and irregular in shape. It can be ¾ to 6 (2 to 15 cm) wide but it is usually no more than, 3 (8 cm) wide. It may be oval, elliptical, ear-shaped, cup-shaped, or fan-shaped. There are sometimes several lobes rising from a common point of attachment. It is gelatinous when it first appears but becomes rubbery and pliant with age. The inner (fertile) surface, usually facing downward, is smooth or slightly wrinkled and tan to yellowish-brown, grayish-brown, or purplish-brown. It is dry but becomes gelatinous when wet. The outer (sterile) surface, usually facing upward, is pale brown to brown or purplish-brown. It curls on the margins over the fertile surface. When young it is covered with minute or fine, silky, white hairs, giving it an ashy appearance. It is often veined or ribbed. When it dries out, the entire fruiting body becomes black and hard.

There is no stalk.

The flesh is edible but thin and rubbery.

The spore print is white.


Similar Species


Leafy Brain (Phaeotremella foliacea) fruiting body appears as a seaweed-like, loosely packed mass of lobes. The lobes are no more than 2 (5 cm) wide, and are leaf-like, never cup-shaped or ear-like.

Habitat and Hosts

Dead hardwood




Spring, summer, and fall


Distribution Map



4, 24, 26, 29, 30, 77.

The map at left does not include records labeled with the old names Auricularia auricula and Auricularia auricula-judae, which now refer only to the European mushrooms, and which could be either A. americana on a conifer or A. angiospermarum on a hardwood. The species name A. angiospermarum was registered (improperly) in 2015 and is not universally recognized. This accounts for the sparse records shown in the map for this not uncommon mushroom.




Not uncommon

  Kingdom Fungi (fungi)  
  Subkingdom Dikarya  
  Phylum Basidiomycota (club fungi)  
  Subphylum Agaricomycotina (jelly fungi, yeasts, and mushrooms)  
  Class Agaricomycetes (mushrooms, bracket fungi, puffballs, and allies)  
  Subclass Agaricomycetidae  






Auricularia (wood ear fungi)  

This mushroom has been known under the common names Jew’s Ear and Judas’ Ear since the last half of the sixteenth century. It was formerly considered Auricularia auricula or Auricularia auricula-judae. Recent DNA analysis (Looney et al., 2013; and Wu et al., 2015) showed that the North American mushrooms consist of at least three distinct species, all of them different from the European species. In 2015, Wu registered the name Auricularia angiospermarum for the North American, widespread, ear-like Auricularia growing on hardwoods. Unfortunately, he did so with the wrong registration identifier (MycoBank number), making the registration invalid. Nevertheless, his species name is currently used by many sources, including iNaturalist. Some sources, including MushroomExpert and California Fungi, refer to it as Auricularia americana deciduous unit, thus separating it from the European species. Some sources, adhering strictly to the rules of nomenclature, continue to use the names Auricularia auricula or Auricularia auricula-judae.




Auricularia auricula-judae

Auricularia auricula

Auricularia auricularis

Auricularia lactea

Auricularia sambuci

Exidia auricula-judae

Gyraria auricularis

Hirneola auricula

Hirneola auricula-judae

Hirneola auricularis

Merulius auricula

Peziza auricula

Peziza auricula-judae

Tremella auricula

Tremella auricula-judae


Common Names


Brown Ear Fungus

Ear Fungus

Jew’s Ear

Judas’ Ear

Tree Ear

Wood Ear










A term often used for saprotrophic fungi. Referring to fungi that obtain their nutrients from decayed organic matter.





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    Wood Ear   Wood Ear  

Greg Watson

    Wood Ear   Wood Ear  
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos








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Other Videos
  Edible Jelly Mushrooms | Wood Ear & Amber Jelly Roll
Learn Your Land

Jan 5, 2019

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In this video, we take a look at two popular edible jelly mushrooms: the Wood Ear (Auricularia angiospermarum) and Amber Jelly Roll (Exidia recisa).




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Location: Fairview Twp.

Wood Ear

  Greg Watson

Location: Eagles Bluff Park, La Crescent, MN

Wood Ear

MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings






Created: 11/10/2022

Last Updated:

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