Wood Ear Mushroom Identification

(and Lookalikes to Avoid)

Packed with powerful antioxidants and health-boosting compounds, this marvelous mushroom makes a delicious and nutritious addition to any forager’s basket.

Wood ear isn’t difficult to forage, but you need to know what you’re looking for. Read on to discover how to identify wood ear mushroom and learn about some look-alikes to avoid.

How to Identify Wood Ear Mushroom

Many wood ear fungi look like human ears, but all flushes are different, and some lack a distinct ear-like appearance.

You may find them growing alone, in clusters, or in rosettes. Wood ear has a particular jelly-like consistency and a lot of size variance.

Young specimens might measure under an inch across, and fully mature mushrooms can reach over five inches. Their overall appearance can vary widely, so it’s essential to learn about all the ways wood ear might manifest.

Determining Species

You may hear this fungus called jelly ear, pig ear, or Judas ear. Each nickname may refer to any number of Auricularia species.

The most important thing you need to know is that they all look similar, are edible, and may be used as medicine — though taste and potency may differ slightly by species.


It’s extremely prevalent in the American Southeast but can be found in every region of the continental US. It grows in forests and along forest edges, preferring wet and humid environments with shade and dappled sunlight.

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