Otidea onotica (Pers.) Fuckel - Hare's Ear

Phylum: Ascomycota - Class: Pezizomycetes - Order: Pezizales - Family: Pyronemataceae

Otidea onotica - Hare's Ear

Only an occasional find in broadleaf and mixed woodland, the Hare’s Ear fungus often fruits in small clustered groups, as shown here. Its conspicuously bright colour makes this an easy-to-spot fungus despite its moderate size.

There is something special about footpaths through woods that suits these are other ear- and cup-like fungi. Perhaps the change in soil density due to compaction causes them to fruit right on the edges of such well-trodden tracks.

Otidea onotica - Hare's Ear

Distribution

Common and widespread throughout Britain and Ireland, particularly in broad woodlands but also occasionally beneath conifers in mixed woodlands, Otidea onotica is found throughout most of mainland Europe. Hare's Ear fungus occurs also in many parts of North America.

Otidea onotica - Hare's Ear, southern England

Taxonomic history

In 1801 when Christiaan Hendrik Persoon described this ascomycete fungus he gave it the binomial scientific name Peziza onitica. It was the German mycologist Karl Wilhelm Gottlieb Leopold Fuckel (1821 - 1876) who in 1870 transferred this species to the genus Otidea, renaming it Otidea onotica, its currently accepted scientific name.

Synonyms of Otidea onitica include Peziza onotica Pers., Pseudotis abietina (Pers.) Boud., and Scodellina onotica (Pers.) Gray.

Otidea onotica, France

Etymology

The genus name Otidea is a reference to the ear-like form of fungi in this group, while the prefix ono- in the specific epithet onotica means donkey. Well, Donkey-ear Fungus seems to me no better or worse a descriptive term than Hare's Ear fungus. (Another of the common names used in the past when referring to this species is Lemon Peel Fungus.)

Identification guide

Otidea onotica, West Wales UK

Fruitbody (apothecium)

Elongated cup with a split down the shorter side and edges overlapping rather than merely abutting, with the margin slightly incurved. 3 to 9cm tall and 1.5 to 4cm across, with a whitish stem up to 1cm long.

Inner (fertile) surface is smooth, light yellowish brown, often with a rosy tinge.

Outer (infertile) surface is buff and slightly scurfy.

Asci of Otidea onotica

Asci

Eight spores per ascus. Asci are typically 170 x 11µm and interspersed with paraphyses that are long and narrow, often with curved tips.

Spores of Itidea onotica

Spores

Ellipsoidal, smooth, 12-14 x 6-7µm, each generally containing two oil drops.

Spore print

White.

Odour/taste

Not distinctive

Habitat & Ecological role

Saprobic, in mossy broadleaf and mixed woodlands and woodland edges.

Season

June to November in Britain and Ireland.

Similar species

Otidea bufonia is a much darker brown and usually produces larger cups.

Culinary Notes

Otidea onotica is generally regarded as inedible. In Wild Edible Fungi: A Global Overview of Their Use and Importance to People by E. R. Boa, this species is listed as being 'either edible or of medicinal value'.

Otidea onotica, France

Reference Sources

Pat O'Reilly (2016) Fascinated by Fungi; First Nature

Dennis, R.W.G. (1981). British Ascomycetes; Lubrecht & Cramer; ISBN: 3768205525.

Boa, E R (2004). Wild Edible Fungi: A Global Overview of Their Use and Importance to People. FAO of the UN.

British Mycological Society (2010). English Names for Fungi

Dictionary of the Fungi; Paul M. Kirk, Paul F. Cannon, David W. Minter and J. A. Stalpers; CABI, 2008

Taxonomic history and synonym information on these pages is drawn from many sources but in particular from the British Mycological Society's GB Checklist of Fungi and (for basidiomycetes) on Kew's Checklist of the British & Irish Basidiomycota.

Acknowledgements

This page includes pictures kindly contributed by Simon Harding.

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