Auricularia auricula-judae, known as the Jew's ear, jelly ear or by a number of other common names, is a species of edible Auriculariales fungus found worldwide. The fruiting body is distinguished by its noticeably ear-like shape and brown colouration; it grows upon wood, especially elder. Its specific epithet is derived from the belief that Judas Iscariot hanged himself from an elder tree; the common name "Judas's ear" eventually became "Jew's ear", while today "jelly ear" or other names are sometimes used. The mushroom can be found throughout the year in temperate regions worldwide, where it grows upon both dead and living wood. Although it is not regarded as a choice edible mushroom in the west, it has long been popular in China, to the extent that Australia exported large volumes of the mushroom to China in the early twentieth century. While not widely consumed in the west, A. auricula-judae was used in folk medicine as recently as the 19th century for complaints including sore throats, sore eyes and jaundice, and as an astringent. Today, the mushroom is a popular ingredient in many Chinese dishes, such as hot and sour soup, and also used in Chinese medicine. It is also used in Ghana, as a blood tonic. Modern research into possible medical applications have variously concluded that A. auricula-judae has antitumour, hypoglycemic, anticoagulant and cholesterol-lowering properties.
Semi rural woodland.