Auricularia polytricha Montagne Saccardo

Figures 351 & 352. A. polytricha 6 and 11 days aner inoculation onto malt agar media.

Introduction: According to records from China ire 60C VI ,, t «mushroom is heralded as he fir speci s to be cul ivate C ig & Miles, 1987 & 198< . This mushroom has an unusual, anpeah lg tex , Jen eaten b t, by itself, is not remarkably flavorful. Nevertheless, A. polytricha Ask i< is commonly ;d in soups, pon drying Wooc is shrivel to a fra don of th ir origi »a size and upon contact with water, rehydrate and enlarge true to form.

Common Names: Wood Ear or Ear Fungus

Tree Ear or Maomuer (Chinese) Yung Ngo or Muk Ngo (CI linese) Mu-tr Mo-er (Chinese, often also used for A auricula) Kikurage (Japanese for "Tree Jelly Fish") Mokurage (Japanese) Aragekikurage (Japanese) Taxonomic Synonyms & Considerations: At Bst three very similar Wood Ear taxa occur in the Americas. Auriculan polytric a (Montague) Saccardo has been reported Louisiana, hu is so common from the America; hr Mexico and south toArgentina.lt is brc m -.hand coarsely hairy on^souter sui u ev : ith the hairs measuring up to 450 x 6 V. fhe common northe. iperae specie* of Wood Ear bearin« strong resemblance to A. polytricha is Auriculana auricula (Hooker) Underwood which is brownish and finely hairy on its outer surface The hairs of us latter species is much^horter, measi i ig 100x6 * Lowy (1971)). As a cultivator, I find that humid.ty has a great affect on sch :ter Henc he delineation, Theses taxa .soften to call, underscori ig their close allianc 5 >ne other feature proposed for delineation is the presence or absence of clamp connec-tioi . . polytricha has them; A. auricula d«: es not. In the Orient Auricular , auricula isgeneray collectedfromthewildandnotas widely cultivated. The JapanesecallA auricula- Senji whereas

A. polytricha is mostly referred by the name "Kilairage". Most cultivators not trained in the skills of taxonomy are likely to pass on the mistaken identifications of those before them. With the many "varieties" of Wood Ears circulating, the need for interfertility studies and DNA comparisons is evident.

According to Wong & Wells (1987), the proper name for the cultivated A. polytricha should be Auricularia cornea (Ehr. :Fr.) Ehr. ex Endl. Until I can further study these taxa and their arguments, I am retaining the name A. polytricha for this mushroom. Another closely related species is Auricularia fuscosuccinea (Montagne) Farlow, the most common Wood Ear in the southeastern United States. This mushroom is rosy to reddish brown and minutely hairy on its outer surface (with hairs measuring 80 x 5 p). This species is distributed as far south as Argentina.

Description: A gelatinous cup fungus, ear-shaped, generally purplish grayish brown to dingy brown, 2-15 cm. broad, sessile. Covered by a medulla of fine hairs. Surface smooth, wrinkled towards the center and upturned towards the outer edges. Firmly gelatinous in texture. Readily rehydrating true to form.

Distribution: Varieties ofWood Ears grow throughout the temperate hardwood forests of the world.

Natural Habitat: On conifer or hardwood logs or stumps, especially oaks, willows, locust, mulberry, acacia and other broad-leaf trees. Commonly occurring in soils rich in wood debris during the cool wet seasons throughout the temperate forests of the world. This mushroom generally favors cool weather and grows from sea-level to tree-line.

Microscopic Features: Spores white in deposit, otherwise hyaline, cylindric to sausage shaped, 1114 (17.5) x 4-6 p. Clamp connections present.

Available Strains: Strains are available from most culture libraries. Wild specimens abound and can be easily brought into culture. Strains of A. auricula and A. polytricha are often mis-labelled due to the difficulty in separating these taxa from one another.

Mycelial Characteristics: Longitudinally linear, thickening with age to form a dense cottony white mycelial mat, becoming mottled with brown discolorations in age.

Fragrance Signature: Unpleasant, musty, reminiscent of a raw compost.

Natural Method of Cultivation:The most common technique used inAsia has been to cut logs 3 feet or a meter in length, 5-12 inches in diameter, in the late fall to early spring. The logs are simply drilled with holes and spawn is pack tightly into the cavities. I prefer to inoculate logs with sawdust spawn that is packed into chain-saw cuts a foot apart. The logs are kept moist in a shaded, well ventilated forest. To initiate mushroom formation, the logs are submerged in water for 24 hours.

Recommended Courses for Expansion of Mycelial Mass to Achieve Fruiting: From liquid inoculated Grain Masters, a 2nd generation of grain spawn in gallon jars can be inoculated. Each gallon jar of spawn can inoculate 10 5 lb. bags of sawdust supplemented with rice bran. Chopped corn and rye flakes can also be used as supplements.

Suggested Agar Culture Media: MYA, MYPA, PDA, PDYA or DFA.

1st, 2nd & 3rd Generation Spawn Media: Millet, milo, rye, wheat or sorghum all support the for

Figure 354. Cylinders of sterilized sawdust are suspended in the growing room anu punctured to elicit fraitings off the vertical faces

Figure 353. A. polytricna in classic form

Figure 354. Cylinders of sterilized sawdust are suspended in the growing room anu punctured to elicit fraitings off the vertical faces mation cf a vigorous and luxuriant mycelial mat.

Substrates for Fruiting: Essentially the same hardwoods that are recommended or Shiitake support good fruitings of thil species. In Asia, Acacia spp. are widely used. The ideal pH range is bet wee i 6.5-7.0. Wheat straw has been used successfully (Jianjun. 1991), especially when sawdust spawn is used

Recommended Containers for Fruiting: Polypropylene bags and bottles. 5a h sh- • aid be pu tui ed with 10-20 holes after full colonization (25-40 days after inoculation) to localize pnmordia format'on.

Recommended Cropping Containers: Polypropylene bags and bottles. One m-thod uses cylindri-cally shaped polypropylene bags 6-8 inches in diameter, that are cui open at both ends and laid horizontally to build a wall of e-posed surfaces. From these open ends, the Wood Ear mushrooms emerge. Others use polypropylene spawn bags fitted with a microporous filter patch These bags are usually punctured to encourage mushroom formation around the bags, or are partially opened at the top to elicit a surface flush of mushrooms. I personally prefer the puncture hole technique.

Yield Potential: 1/4 to 1/2 lb. of mushrooms per 5 lbs. of supplemented sawdust. Logs pioduce for several years, yielding at best, 20% of their wet mass into fresh mushrooms over 3-5 years.

growth parameters 399

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