by James Bears

This Polypore is one of the most damaging but also prevalent members of this extensive and lives on old trunks of fruit trees. Its fruit-bodies are juicy, meaty, heavY and very watery.

Peziza badioconfusa grows on bare, slightly damp ground close to woodland paths and streams. Its fruit-bodies are wide and cup:shaped and, when mature, if they are touched discharge clouds of whitish spore powder. This phenomenon is also characteristic of other related genera. similar species, Peziza badia, is a deeper reddish-brown and the ornamentation of its spores is also different.

Inonotus hispidus is an annual fungus which attacks orchards with apple and occasionally pear trees, causing great damage. It prefers older trees as their central wooden column rots quickly. In the past a yellow dye has been produced from its fruit:- bodies, used for painting and silk dying.

The Jew’s Ear likes to grow on the common elder and on false acacia. Its very supple fruit-bodies are bone hard when dry, but become pliable again when moistened. Some related species which grow in Asia arc used in cooking. Tremella mesenterica is often found on the dead branches of deciduous trees, usually hornbeams and oaks.

When moist its folded, brain-like, contorted fruit-bodies become bright yellow in colour. Exidia Nana is even more common; it differs from other species of the Exidia genus by the presence of dark protrusions which are scattered over the surface of its blackish fruit- body.

When dried out, it becomes narrow, black and shrivelled. Generally it grows on the cut surfaces of beech stumps and also on the branches and trunks of other trees lying on the ground. The Jew’s Ear is edible, but Tremella and Exidia are not.

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