21. Exidia Auricula Judae, Fries.—Jew's Ear.
Tremella Auricula Judae, Linn.; Peziza Auricula, Linn. This fungus grows on living trees, especially the elder; whence its name fungus sambuci, vel sambucinus. It is still professed to be kept in the London herb-shops; but in its place, I find that Polyporus versicolor, Fries, is usually sold for it. Dr. Martiny [Encyclop. d. Naturalien u. Rohrwaarenk. Bd. i. S. 911, 1843.] states that other species—namely, Polyporus adustus, Fries, Polyporus zonatus, Fries (especially when this is strongly dried and half charred), and Daedalea unicolor, Fries, are substituted for the genuine plant. All these adulterations or substitutions may be readily detected by immersing the dried fungus in water: the genuine Exidia Auricula Judea softens and swells up so as to resume its natural gelatinous condition, whereas the others do not soften in water. It was formerly in repute as a topical astringent and discutient; and was employed in the form of decoction or infusion (made with water, rose-water, vinegar, or milk), and cataplasm made with milk and water. It has been used in sore-throat, sore-eyes, and deafness [For further details respecting it, consult Alston's Lect. on the Mat. Medica, vol. i. p. 351, 1770; and Murray, App. Medicaminum, vol. v. p. 583.]. On account of its absorbing and retaining liquids, it has been soaked in collyria and applied to the eyes, as a substitute for sponge.