Fungi Key – Auricularia

 

This is a trial key for Queensland Auricularia.
QMS would greatly appreciate your feedback: info [at] qldfungi.org.au

Is it an Auricularia?

The fruiting bodies of Auricularia are:

  • fleshy, tough gelatinous to cartilaginous, ear or cup shaped;
  • usually translucent; and a reddish brown;
  • dorsally attached to wood;
  • solitary or more usually in groups;
  • tomentose, the upper surface is generally hairy;
  • smooth or reticulate on their lower surface or the hymenium;
  • white spored with cylindrical or allantoid spores; and,
  • the basidia are cylindrical with three transverse septa.

If the jelly fungus you have found meets all the above criteria then it is almost certainly an Auricularia.
 

Species recorded in Queensland

At least six names appear in the available literature about Auricularia in Queensland, but only four species are supported by material deposited in the Herbarium at Mt Coot-tha. They are:

  • Auricularia auricula-judae: there are 16 confirmed records for this species. American and some older European publications use the synonym Auricularia auricula.
  • Auricularia cornea: the most commonly collected and seen species with 42 records, mostly recorded under its synonym of Auricularia polytricha.
  • Auricularia delicata: another common species with 30 confirmed records.
  • Auricularia mesenterica: the least known species with only 5 confirmed records, two under the synonym of Auricularia lobata.
Key
1. Hymenium (lower surface) smooth or with a few veins or folds. 2
1.* Hymenium (lower surface) veined or reticulate like tripe. 3
2. Upper surface minutely tomentose (finely hairy). Auricularia auricula-judae
2.* Upper surface tomentose (hairy). Auricularia cornea
3. Fruiting body resupinate, tough and rubbery, lower surface with paler radial ridges, upper surface villose (densely hairy). Auricularia mesenterica
3.* Fruiting body sessile to sub-stipitate, upper surface tomentose (finely hairy), lower surface pinkish white to cream and meruloid or reticulate like tripe. Auricularia delicata

 

Species Descriptions

Auricularia auricula-judae (Bull:Fr.) Wettst.

Macro Characters
Fruit bodies tough gelatinous; yellow to reddish brown; sessile to substipitate; up to 120mm diameter by 1 – 2 mm thick; pileus minutely tomentose with hyaline hairs; hymenium smooth; growing in gregarious or caespitose groups, occasionally solitary.

Microscopic Characters
Pileus made up of densely compacted gelatinised hyphae with cuticular hairs 85 – 100 × 5 – 6 µm, with rounded tips; basidia 50 – 60 × 5 – 6 µm, cylindrical, with transverse septa; spores allantoid, 13 – 15 × 5 – 6 µm.

Notes
Known as ‘Jews Ear’ or ‘Wood Ear’ (in North America) this fungus is recognised by its reddish brown colour, smooth lower surface and minutely hairy cap. This fungus is edible if tasteless and was collected for use in Chinese cookery; indeed it was collected in Queensland and exported to China in the 19th century.

Auricularia auricula-judae

Auricularia auricula-judae (© Fran Guard)


Auricularia cornea (Ehrenb.: Fr.) Ehrenb ex Endl.

Macro Characters
Fruit bodies tough cartilaginous gelatinous; mouse grey to olive brown; substipitate; up to 100 mm diameter by 1 – 2 mm thick; pileus pilose, densely covered with hyaline hairs, some in tufts; hymenium smooth; growing in gregarious or caespitose groups, occasionally solitary.

Microscopic Characters
Pileus made up of densely compacted gelatinised hyphae with cuticular hairs up to 450 µm long, on average 185 – 200 × 5 – 7 µm, with rounded tips; basidia 45 – 55 × 4 – 5 µm, cylindrical, with 3 transverse septa; spores allantoid, 14 – 16 × 5 – 6 µm.

Notes
Known as the ‘Hairy Wood Ear’ or ‘Cloud Ear’, this fungus is recognised by its mouse grey to olivaceous brown colour, smooth lower surface and densely hairy cap. This fungus is also edible, tough and tasteless and was collected for use in Chinese cookery and exported to China in the 19th century.

Auricularia cornea

Auricularia cornea (© Fran Guard)


Auricularia delicata (Fr,) Henn.

Macro Characters
Fruit bodies soft rubbery gelatinous; transluscent reddish to pinkish brown; sessile to substipitate; reniform to semicircular; up to 80 mm diameter by 1 – 2 mm thick; pileus minutely tomentose to almost glabrous, with fine hyaline hairs; hymenium conspicuously meruloid to porose reticulate, with veins a pale hyaline cream colour and hymenium surface pale pinkish cream to pale reddish brown; growing in gregarious or caespitose groups, occasionally solitary.

Microscopic Characters
Pileus made up of densely compacted gelatinised hyphae with cuticular hairs 60 – 175 × 5 – 6 µm, with rounded tips; basidia 40 – 45 × 4 – 5 µm, cylindrical, with 3 transverse septa; spores allantoid with 2 – 3 prominent oil globules, 10 – 13 × 5 – 6 µm.

Notes
This fungus is readily recognised by its reticulate to poroid pale coloured veining on the hymenium.

Auricularia delicata

Auricularia delicata (© Fran Guard)


Auricularia mesenterica (Dicks.: Fr.) Pers.

Macro Characters
Fruit bodies rubbery gelatinous; pale grey to olive brown; resupinate and commonly lobed; up to 50 mm diameter by 1.5 – 2 mm thick; pileus conspicuously zoned, pilose with fine hyaline hairs; margin undulating often pale from spores; hymenium purplish brown, conspicuously veined, wrinkled; growing in gregarious or caespitose groups, occasionally solitary.

Microscopic Characters
Pileus made up of densely compacted gelatinised hyphae with cuticular hairs 60 – 175 × 5 – 6 µm, with rounded tips; basidia 45 – 70 × 3 – 4 µm, cylindrical, with 3 transverse septa; spores allantoid, 15 – 18 × 6 – 7 µm.

Notes
Known as the ‘Tripe Fungus’ it is recognised by its zoned pileus, wrinkled to veined hymenium and large spores. The Queensland collections are all over 50 years old, with very small fruit bodies and a densely hairy pileus, it is not certain that they are conspecific with A. mesenterica.

Auricularia mesenterica

Auricularia mesentericaaphotofungi.com)

Pat Leonard
2012