If you’re wondering how the Tripe fungus, Auricularia mesenterica, got its name, well, according to Pat O’Reilly’s most excellent First Nature website, ‘The specific epithet mesenterica is a Latinised adjective derived from the Ancient Greek word mesenterion meaning ‘middle intestine’.’ I checked – he’s not talking tripe! Auricularia comes from the Latin word for ear, a nod to its fleshy ear-like shape. (Fungi fans will notice that it resembles the Jelly Ear fungus, Auricularia auricula-judae, which is in the same genus.)
This is not a particularly common fungus these days as it usually grows on dead elm trees but, with the devastating effects of Dutch Elm disease, which has killed over 60 million British elm trees, there are now not many elms left, even dead ones. I had first noticed this particularly fungus in one of my local woodlands several months ago when the hot dry summer had left it shrivelled up and unidentifiable but, as soon as the autumn rains came, it almost immediately fleshed out and began creating new growth. It’s very variable in colour, with bands of brown, grey, white or purple on top, and it is a rather odd combination of hairy above and jelly-like below.