Being as there are no toxic members of the polypore family, familiarizing yourself with the four choicely edible members of this family, the Chicken Mushroom, Beefsteak Mushroom, Oyster Mushroom, and Hen of the Woods is an excellent idea for the beginner mushroom hunter. The chicken mushroom is found in a wide variety of habitats throughout North America; and when you add the fact that it is huge, and one of the best tasting wild mushrooms, you have yourself a winner.
Sulfur Shelf, Chicken of the Woods, Chicken Fungus
Polyporaceae– Polypore family
Chicken of the Woods mushrooms have brilliant orange-red caps and pale sulfur-yellow pore surfaces. As the mushroom ages, it fades to peach or white. Being a true polypore, L. sulphureus always grows on wood; either the trunk of an oak above the ground, or on a fallen log at the height that would have been above the ground. I have also found this mushroom growing on the roots at the base of a tree, but that is rare. The caps are semicircular to fan shaped, and can grow up to a foot wide. They usually grow in groups. I have harvested 20 or more pounds from a single tree.
2" - 12" wide; usually overlapping, flat, semicircular to fan-shaped; salmon to sulfur-yellow to bright orange, weathering to white; smooth. Flesh ¼" - 1½" thick, white, light yellow or pale salmon.
1 - 4 mm long. Pores 2 - 4 per mm, angular, bright sulfur-yellow.
5 - 7 x 3.5 - 5 µ; broadly elliptical to almost round, smooth, colorless.
¼" - 1½" thick.
May - September
On stumps, trunks, and logs of deciduous trees; also on living trees and buried roots.
National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms Description:
Single to overlapping clusters of fleshy, smooth, orange-red to orange-yellow caps with sulfur-yellow spores.
Cap: 2" - 12" wide; usually overlapping, flat, semicircular to fan-shaped; salmon to sulfur-yellow to bright orange, weathering to white; smooth. Flesh ¼" - 1½" thick, white, light yellow or pale salmon.
Tubes: 1 - 4 mm long. Pores 2 - 4 per mm, angular, bright sulfur-yellow.
Stalk: (when present) rudimentary.
Spores: 5 - 7 x 3.5 - 5 µ; broadly elliptical to almost round, smooth, colorless.
This mushroom becomes somewhat indigestible as it ages, and in some, causes an allergic reaction, such as swollen lips. Specimens from a few tree hosts, such as eucalyptus, can cause digestive upset. A variety, L. semialbinus, has a salmon colored cap and white pores
Wild Food Uses:
An excellent choice edible. I enjoy it sautéed in butter, as well as in soups. I have used it to make vegetarian chicken soup. It was actually pretty good. The texture is similar to that of white meat chicken.
The following text is meant for informational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness or injury. Always consult with a physician or other qualified medical care provider concerning the diagnosis and treatment of any illness or injury.