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Auricularia polytricha has several endearing auricular nicknames -- Jelly Ears, Tree Ears, Cloud Ears, and though some insist on the far less whimsical title of Black Fungus, we like Wood Ears, reminding us of the earthy, cedary, woodsy flavors and fragrances these mushrooms subtly portend. By any name, Wood Ears are most beloved for their textural singularity, with springy, crunchy shells that give way to a chewy, jelly-like interior. Asian cuisines frequently incorporate Wood Ears into soups, stir-frys, salads, dumplings, or any dish where the mushrooms can fuse with stronger flavors while adding their distinct textural signature.
Auricularia polytricha are most frequently found in clusters along old beech, ash, and spindle trees in temperate forests. Though originally from Asia and certain Pacific islands, they can now be found wild in temperate regions worldwide and are cultivated in considerable volume as well.