Chicken of the Woods - Laetiporus sulphureus

Main features

  • Found on dead or dying Oak, Cherry, Willow, Yew, Sweet Chestnut, and Beech

  • Has a large cap reaching 50cm or more

  • Cap is yellow, pink or orange, often in bands of these colours

  • Cap is fleshy and often wavy

  • Often several caps stacked one on top of the others

  • Has white or pale yellow pores

  • No real discernible stem

  • Flesh smells pleasant and mushroomy

  • Flesh is white and resembles cooked chicken breast

  • Spores are white

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Chicken of the Woods - Laetiporus sulphureus 

Edible mushroom - novice

Other common names: Sulphur Shelf, Sulphur Polypore, Crab of the Woods

 

Scientific name meaning: Laetiporus comes from the Latin word Laetus - meaning gay, pleasing or abundant - and porus, meaning pores. Sulphureus is a refernece to the yellow colouring if the fruit bodies

Season - when will I find it? Summer to Autumn
 

Habitat - where will I find it? Growing on dead or dying Oak, Sweet Chestnut, Cherry, Willow, Yew, and sometimes Beech

Description - what does it look like? 

Growth: Chicken of the Woods is saprobic growing on dead or dying Oak, Sweet Chestnut, Cherry, Willow, Yew, and sometimes Beech

Cap: Size is up to 50cm, sometimes larger, and often layered one on top of the other. The cap is yellow, pink or orange, often in bands, and usually wavy with. It is often thick and fleshy

Pores: The pore surface is white or pale yellow the pores often too small to see with the naked eye. 

Stem: No real discernible stem

Flesh: White and fibrous, resembling cooked chicken breast

Smell: Mushroomy and pleasant

Spore colour: White

Possible lookalikes Could be confused with some specimens of Giant Polypore (Meripilus giganteus), but this prefers Beech and bruises brown​ to black

Use as a food Chicken of the Woods has a rich poultry-like flavour and texture. It is very similar in taste and texture to chicken and can be used as a substitute for it. 

Only young, fresh specimens should be used for eating. Older specimens are tough and acidic.

See Hazards regarding other consumption warnings

Use in herbal medicine Some haemolytic and haemagglutination activity has been seen

If you are suffering from any ailment or need medical advice, please see your General Practitioner

Hazards This mushroom causes gastric upset and nausea in some people. A tolerance test should be carried out before consuming for the first time.

Because Chicken of the Woods can grow close to the ground, care should be taken not to harvest in areas where dogs may foul.

If found on Yew, be aware that this mushroom can engulf the poisonous leaves and bark quite readily. Although there is no evidence that Chicken of the Woods takes up toxins from you tree, we are not currently aware of any scientific proof that it does not. Please let us know if you know of any 

Importance to other species Unknown. Please let us know if you know of any

Always stay safe when foraging. You need to be 100% sure of your identification, 100% sure that your foraged item is edible, and 100% sure that you are not allergic to it (it is good practice to always try a small amount of any new food you are consuming). If in doubt, leave it out!

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