Falling Ears

We have many old trees on our property. One of my chores is to pick up the fallen sticks. This isn’t as boring as it sounds. Sticks have many tenants on board as they die and fall back to earth.

Gravity alone does not purge trees of their dead branches. Other forces are also at work.

Dead wood is dead weight, but not usually heavy enough on its own to break off of the tree.

Fungal spores are airborne specks that land on everything. If there is enough moisture and nutrients, these spores sprout and grow to become mushrooms and bracket fungi.

The most abundant passengers I find on the downed sticks during the winter months are jelly ears/ Auricularia auricula-judae.

Jelly Ear / Auricularia auricula-judae

These brown, ear-shaped forms are cold and rubbery on the outside and slimy on the inside. The top side acts like a cup to hold rain until it can be absorbed.

The ears grow in clusters and get large and heavy by winter from the fall rains.

I try to remember to wear gloves as I pick up sticks, so as not to get the jelly from an ear on my hands.

Bigger ears and more ears mean more weight. That is what brings the dead branches down.

Do not blame the ears. The jelly ears and gravity are just doing their jobs to bring down the wood to be recycled back into the soil.

These are edible, but eating an ear does not appeal to me. How about you?


12 thoughts on “Falling Ears

  1. This was super-interesting and fascinating. I’ve never seen anything like it. Learn something new every day. I think I’ll stick with the tried and true strawberry jelly on my peanut butter toast. Have a blessed and beautiful Christmas, Flower..


  2. I don’t remember seeing anything like this. There are lichens aplenty, but perhaps those catch my eye because of their colors and size. When it comes to jelly, I think I’d prefer peach or strawberry on my muffin, thank you very much.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.