Cloud ear fungus

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Cloud ear fungus—Auricularia polytricha
Auricularia polytricha.jpg
Cloud ear fungus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Fungi
Division: Basidiomycota
Class: Heterobasidiomycetes
Order: Auriculariales
Family: Auriculariaceae
Genus: Auricularia
Species: A. polytricha
Binomial name
Auricularia polytricha
(Mont.) Sacc.
Auricularia polytricha
View the Mycomorphbox template that generates the following list
Mycological characteristics
smooth hymenium
no distinct cap
hymenium attachment is irregular or not applicable
lacks a stipe
spore print is white
ecology is saprotrophic
edibility: choice

Cloud ear fungus (Auricularia polytricha, syn. Hirneola polytricha) is an edible jelly fungus. It is gray-brown in color and often used in Asian cooking.


It is known as Mandarin Chinese: 云耳; pinyin: yún'ěr, lit. "cloud ear"), Chinese: 毛木耳; pinyin: máomù'ěr, lit. "hairy wood ear"), and in Japanese it is called ara-ge-ki-kurage (アラゲキクラゲ, lit. "rough-hair-tree-jellyfish"). It is also known as black fungus, black Chinese fungus (or mushroom), wood ear fungus, wood fungus, ear fungus, or tree ear fungus, an allusion to its rubbery ear-shaped growth. In Europe, it is frequently confused as "Jew's ear", and "Jelly ear", albeit they are very closely related. In Hawaii, they are known as pepeiao which means ear.[1] In Southeast Asia, it is known as bok née in local English (from the Hokkien 木耳 bo̍k-ní) and is used in the salad kerabu bok nee. In Indonesia and Malaysia, they are called jamur kuping, meaning "the ear mushroom", and in the Philippines, the locals call it tenga ng daga, meaning "rat's ear", due to its appearance.


Fruit body resupinate or pileate, loosely attached, laterally and sometimes by a very short stalk, elastic, gelatinous; sterile surface dark yellowish brown to dark brown with greyish brown bands, hairy, silky. Hymenium smooth, or wrinkled, pale brown to dark brown to blackish brown with a whitish boom. Hairs thick-walled, up to 0.6 mm long. Basidia cylindrical, hyaline, three-septate, 46–60 × 4–5.5 μm with 1–3 lateral sterigmata; sterigmata 9–15 × 1.5–12 μm. spores, hyaline, reniform to allantoid, 13–16 × 4–5.5 μm, guttulate.[2]

Habitat and distribution[edit]

Auricularia polytricha is widely distributed in moist-deciduous to wet evergreen forests of the Western Ghats, Kerala, India. This species occurs in clusters on rotting branches and twigs and on decaying stumps and logs.[2]


Auricularia polytricha is usually sold dried and needs to be soaked before use. While almost tasteless, it is prized for its slippery but slightly crunchy texture, and its potential medicinal properties, including its newly discovered anticoagulant properties. Of note, the slight crunchiness persists despite most cooking processes.

It may be effective in reducing LDL cholesterol and aortic atherosclerotic plaque, as demonstrated in a study on rabbits.[3]

Related fungi[edit]

  • Auricularia auricula-judae, the "Jew's Ear fungus", a closely related species, is also used in Asian cuisine and has been suggested as an acceptable culinary alternative to Cloud Ear fungus.[4]
  • Snow fungus, Tremella fuciformis, another edible fungus which is superficially similar in appearance, has similar culinary and medicinal uses, but is actually a parasitic species in another class of fungi.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Elizabeth Speith. "Auricularia polytricha (Auriculariaceae) - HEAR species info". Retrieved 2011-02-28. 
  2. ^ a b Mohanan C. (2011). Macrofungi of Kerala. Kerala, India: Kerala Forest Research Institute. p. 597. ISBN 81-85041-73-3. 
  3. ^ Fan, YM; Xu, MY; Wang, LY; Zhang, Y; Zhang, L; Yang, H; Wang, P; Cui, P (1989). "The effect of edible black tree fungus (Auricuaria auricula) on experimental atherosclerosis in rabbits". Chinese medical journal 102 (2): 100–5. PMID 2505974. 
  4. ^ [1][full citation needed]

External links[edit]