Cloud ear fungus
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|Cloud ear fungus—Auricularia polytricha|
|Cloud ear fungus|
|no distinct cap|
|hymenium attachment is irregular or not applicable|
|lacks a stipe|
|spore print is white|
|ecology is saprotrophic|
Cloud ear fungus (Auricularia polytricha, syn. Hirneola polytricha) is an edible jelly fungus. It grows on trees in mountainous regions, is gray-brown in color and is often used in Asian cooking, especially Chinese cuisine.
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. 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. In Chinese cooking, it is often referred to as "Black Treasure".
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.
Habitat and distribution
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.
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.
As per Chinese medicine practitioners, eating dried and cooked wood ear can have health benefits for people with high blood pressure, cancer and can prevent coronary heart disease and arteriosclerosis.  It may also be effective in reducing LDL cholesterol and aortic atherosclerotic plaque, as demonstrated in a study on rabbits.
- 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.
- 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.
- "Cuisine - Food - Cloud ear fungus". China Daily. 29 February 2011. Retrieved 4 May 2016. Check date values in:
- Elizabeth Speith. "Auricularia polytricha (Auriculariaceae) - HEAR species info". Hear.org. Retrieved 2011-02-28.
- Mohanan C. (2011). Macrofungi of Kerala. Kerala, India: Kerala Forest Research Institute. p. 597. ISBN 81-85041-73-3.
- Smith, Lana Billings. "The nutritional benefits of wood ear fungus". http://www.livestrong.com. Retrieved 5 May 2016. External link in
- "Why wood ear fungus should be a part of your daily meals". Organic Olivia. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
- 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.
- [full citation needed]
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