Sep 23 2010


Published by at 8:47 am under Plants

September 23, 2010:

Chicken has been a theme this week, but where's the bird in this picture?

There isn't one.  Chicken-of-the-woods is a mushroom.

Otherwise known as Sulphur Shelf (Laetiporus sulphureus) chicken-of-the-woods grows on dead trees.  In many cases it's edible -- but not always.  When it's edible, people say it tastes like chicken.  When it's not, those who eat it are probably too sick to describe what it tastes like.

I found a huge patch of Chicken-of-the-Woods growing on the trunk of a fallen sycamore at Raccoon Creek Wildflower Reserve last Sunday.  The patch was so huge it could have covered my desk.  I didn't remember its name but someone else certainly did and they knew it was good to eat.  Two big chicken-sized chunks had been sliced off the back of it.  Someone had Chicken-of-the-woods for dinner.

No way was I going to be that brave.  I couldn't identify the mushroom and I knew that even edible mushrooms are sometimes poisonous.  Chuck Tague helped me identify it and sent me this picture.

You can learn more about this mushroom here.  When you click, the author will warn you with a preliminary pop-up that you had better read the whole description before you try this "chicken" for dinner.

(photo by Chuck Tague)

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Chicken-of-the-Woods”

  1. Marcy Con 23 Sep 2010 at 4:53 pm

    I remember many years back, going mushroom hunting with my grandfather and usually around oak trees/stumps he would find sheep head mushroom. I think that’s right…another “animal” mushroom… looked like layers of whitish mushrooms, like the wool of sheep…since I don’t like any mushrooms, I helped pick, but not eat…

  2. Davidon 23 Oct 2010 at 9:41 am

    The Sulphur Shelf is a very tasty, easy-to-identify mushroom, to which I am, alas, allergic. It does taste like chicken breast, without the characteristically earthy taste (not unpleasant in itself) of many other edible mushrooms. They are one of the so-called “safe seven”, which cannot easily be confused with other mushrooms.

    Yes, as the author of the linked site says, avoid it when it grows on certain trees.

    Also, avoid any rotted mushroom! (If it is in such condition that you would not buy it, don’t pick it.)

    Mushroom picking doesn’t really work all that well with birding, does it? Eyes up, versus eyes down… 😉

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