Silver Ear

By William T. Hathaway

Silver Ear (Tremella fuciformis)

Hunters and hikers can usually recall having seen a yellow jellylike fungus called “Witches' Butter.” In my wanderings over the years I have witnessed only one specimen of the Silver Ear (Tremella fuciformis), which is a jellylike fungus that is translucent when fresh. Indeed, it had a ghostly appearance as it survived in a shady woods, darkened by an overcast day. I photographed this Silver Ear while walking the Hiawatha Trail in the White Oak Mountain Wildlife Management Area in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. The specimen was situated on top of a moist, rotting log.

An interesting bit of information about this fungus is written in A Field Guide of Southern Mushrooms by Nancy Smith Weber and Alexander H. Smith:

“This species was mentioned in Chinese pharmacology texts and was used both as a drug and a food. It is now being cultivated in several countries and is imported to this country from Taiwan.”