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Auricularia cornea. Hakeke. Hakeka. Ear fungus.

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Hirneola polytricha

Auricularia polytricha

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Abundant on rotting wood in lowland forests, but grows on both live and dead trunks. Particularly on karaka, pukatea, tawa, māhoe and kaiwhiria logs and stumps. Fungus matures about two years after trees felled, quantity decreases after that ( Best 1902, 1907).

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"Hakeke ... is found in the forest of Pirongia; that which grows on the Karaka is most esteemed." One of foods presented at a great feast which Potts attended. (Potts 1879)

One of fungi eaten in times of want (Colenso 1868a, 1880).

Eaten in times of scarcity. Not liked. Some form of greens, and in late times potatoes, cooked and eaten with it in order to make it palatable ( Best 1902, 1942).

"In 1871, this plant first collected for exportation to China, where it is used as an article of food, being boiled and mixed wth bean curd and vermicelli; it is also administered as a medicine to purify the blood. Its price in Hong Kong is 10 1/2d. per lb retail. In most parts of New Zealand Chinese merchants pay the collector 3d. per lb., or 28 pounds sterling per ton for the fungus when dry. Fresh specimens lose four-fifths of their weight when drying. The total quantity exported to the end of 1876 was of value of 18,294 pounds sterling. During the year 1876 alone, 2,633 cwts. were exported, valued at 6,224 pounds sterling. " (Conservator of State Forests 1877)

During the late 1880s, there was a significant export trade to China of this fungus. 339 tons collected in one year sold for 15,581 pounds sterling (Colenso 1891b).

See also Kirk 1879 for notes on export.

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28 May 2007
2 July 2020
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