Growing on a dead ash tree trunk about 6 feet from the ground, this chicken mushroom, also called chicken of the woods (cow), scientifically named Laetiporus sulphureus, is a choice edible if you gather it before toughness sets in. This stage in basket = very tender and delectable. Just sautéed it with butter (olive oil is great too) and sprinkled it with salt; makes a great snack solo and topping for salad.; succulent simmered in soup, and of course sautéed with other veg . Also found a piece of last year’s chicken mushroom shriveled and bone colored (see last photo); good to note these out of season for future harvest sites.
Look for orange, stalkless, shelf mushrooms, fanning out, and overlapping in clusters growing on oaks and other hardwoods. L. sulphureus is a brown heart rot fungus (parasite) and saprobe, meaning it attacks the heartwood, in this case of living oaks and other hardwoods, and also decomposes dead trees. Look for these above the base of the tree. If you find one at the tree base, then it is most likely a closely related, and choice edible cousin, Laetiporus cincinatus, which is a butt rot fungus. L. cincinatus also has more pink in its cap and a white to cream colored pore surface. Note the yellow pore surface of our specimen. Spore print: white. Range: Eastern North America.
Caution: If you find a chicken mushroom growing on eucalyptus, conifers (pine, spruce, hemlock, etc.), and locust it may cause allergic reactions and gastric distress in some folks; note these are not L. sulphureus but different Laetiporus species. The safer choice is the chicken mushroom that grows on oak and other hardwoods.
Please note, you must triple confirm your id, and with an experienced mushroomer in person, before you consume any fungi. Having heralded that warning, what mushrooms have you been finding lately?
How do you like to prepare chicken mushroom?
Grateful to the fungi!