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Auricularia polytricha

Wood Ear

(Information taken from Paul Stamets: Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms)

According to records from China circa 600 A.D., this mushroom is heralded as the first species to be cultivated. This mushroom has an unusual, appealing texture when eaten, but by itself, is not remarkably flavorful. Nevertheless, A. polytricha is highly prized in Asia and is commonly used in soups. Upon drying, Wood Ears shrivel to a fraction of their original size, and upon contact with water, rehydrate and enlarge true to form.

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

Microscopic Features: This mushroom produces white spores.

Suggested Agar Culture Media: Malt Yeast Agar (MYA), Malt Yeast Peptone Agar (MYPA), Potato Dextrose Agar (PDA), Potato Dextrose Yeast Agar (PDYA), or Dog Food Agar (DFA).

Spawn Media: Millet, milo, rye, wheat, or sorghum. All support the formation of a vigorous and luxuriant mycelial mat.

Substrates for Fruiting: Essentially the same hardwoods that are recommended for Shiitake support good fruitings of this species. In Asia, Acacia spp. are widely used. The ideal pH range is between 6.5-7.0. Wheat straw has been used successfully, especially when sawdust spawn is used.

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

---Growth Parameters---

Spawn Run:

  • Incubation Temperature: 75-85° F (24-30° C)
  • Relative Humidity: 90-95/li>
  • Duration: 25-40 days
  • CO2: >5000-20,000 ppm
  • Fresh Air Exchanges: 0-1 per hour
  • Light Requirements: n/a

Primordia Formation:

  • Initiation Temperature: 55-70° F (12-20° C)
  • Relative Humidity: 90-100/li>
  • Duration: 5-10 days
  • CO2: 600-1000 ppm
  • Fresh Air Exchanges: 5-8 per hour
  • Light Requirements: 500-1000 lux

Fruitbody Development:

  • Temperature: 70-85* F (21-30* C)
  • Relative Humidity: 85-90/li>
  • Duration: 5-7 days
  • CO2: 2000-5000 ppm
  • Fresh Air Exchanges: 4-5 per hour
  • Light Requirements: 500-1000 lux

Cropping Cycle:

  • Every two to three weeks, for 3-5 flushes.

Comments:This mushroom is extremely popular in Asia and to a much less extent, in Europe. In the United States, this mushroom is used primarily by those of Asian descent. Appealing for its ease of use, Wood Ear mushrooms dry and rehydrate quickly.

The method of cultivation closely parallels that of Shiitake. The punctured polypropylene bags should be placed in a 100r condensing fog environment to encourage the emergence of mycelium. Once mushroom initials form, the atmosphere should clear of condensing fog but be held at 95-100umidity. Watering two to four times a day brings on fruit body formation within 5-10 days. If by third flush, substrate moisture has fallen below 50 nd can not be replenished through frequent watering, submerging the sawdust bags will induce one last substantial flush.

Imazeki rates A. auricula as superior to A. polytricha in culinary terms. A. auricula can be grown in the same fashion as A. polytricha except that A. auricula thrives in the 50-60° F (10-15° C) range. These differences may be varietal in nature, assuming that the taxa a A auricula and A. polytricha are con specific.

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