The Families of Mushrooms and Toadstools Represented in the British Isles


L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


Including ‘Jew’s Ear Fungus’.

Morphology. The fruit-bodies producing basidia and basidiospores; persistent; attached laterally and bracket-shaped, or fan-shaped (often resembling a human ear in shape and consistency, “hemiangiocarpous and sessile”), or more or less prostrate and cushion-shaped or contorted-folded and brain-like with the hymenium external, or flattened and more or less appressed to the substrate or encrusting, with the hymenium on the outside; medium sized to large; 3–10 cm across; waxy to gelatinous and somewhat translucent when moist; brightly pigmented to not brightly pigmented; light brown, or purplish brown (brown or liver-coloured). The hymenium with pegs or spinose, or smooth, or irregularly folded, ridged or wrinkled. The basidia ‘modified’; transversely septate (cylindrical, the 1–4 cells each bearing a sterigma and a basidiospore). The basidiospores with germination involving repetition and budding; ballistosporic.

The hyphal walls lamellate, with a thin, electron-dense outer layer and a relatively thick, electron-transparent inner layer. The hyphae with dolipore septa.

Ecology. Saprophytic, or parasitic and saprophytic; when parasitic, on vascular plants. The fruit-bodies on dead wood, or on living wood. Associated with broad-leaved trees. The fruit-bodies on trunks and branches of living trees and on dead trees and fallen logs. A. auricula-judae occurs mainly on Sambucus and Ulmus. Found in broad-leaved woodland and in mixed woodland.

British representation. Auricularia.

World representation. 21 species; genera 5. “Widespread”.

Classification. Basidiomycota; Basidiomycetes; Tremellomycetidae; Auriculariales.

Comments. Auricularia polytricha edible (and good).

Illustrations. • Auricularia auricula-judae and A. mesenterica (Berkeley).

To view the illustrations with captions giving names in current use, go to the interactive key. This also offers full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting or lacking specified attributes, distributions of character states within any set of taxa, source references, and other relevant material.

Cite this publication as: ‘Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2008 onwards. The families of mushrooms and toadstools represented in the British Isles. Version: 6th March 2015.’.