A Wildlife Cameo!
Jew's-Ear (Auricularia auricula-judea)
This was found during February 2007 growing on the trunk of a dead Elder in Pearman's Copse. It grows most commonly on Elder but is occasionally seen on other broadleaved species such as Elm. It is an ear shaped bracket fungus, one of the Tremellales or 'Jelly Fungi'. In dry conditions they become quite hard and shrunken, but when wetted they swell up and regain their texture and colour. It is one of the few fungi that can withstand freezing temperatures and can be seen all year round and especially in winter/spring.
It is said to be edible and is much prized in China and was also used by old herbalists as a poultice for sore eyes. (Mabey; Food for Free 1972)
The name reputedly derives from the story of Judas Escariot who hanged himself from an Elder tree.
Thanks to Anne Booth for this article and pictures.