Chicken of the woods

Photo by  Kristein Remp, The Montanian

By Ashley South


What’s that fungus among us?

Chicken of the woods, or the Sulphur Shelf, can be found growing on or at the base of dead or dying hardwood trees, and can also be found on dead conifer stumps. Chicken of the woods has been known to fruit on living trees as well.

This bracket fungi is found throughout Canada, the U.S., Europe, and parts of Asia.

Chicken of the woods is fan-shaped to semicircular and it can be smooth to finely wrinkled. The cap measures anywhere from 5 to 30 cm across and up to 20 cm deep and up to 3 cm thick. It is bright yellow to bright orange when young, and sometimes it can develop a reddish tinge.

This fungi does not have a stem so there is no height. You can find these growing in summer and autumn. Rarely this polypore can persist through the winter and are able to continue fruiting during the following year.

This mushroom has a lemony, meaty taste. Some think it tastes like chicken, like its namesake, others describe the flavor as being more like crab or lobster.

The outer parts of chicken of the woods is the desirable part to consume because the inner area tends to get a bit corky, or in some cases woody. This mushroom is choice for most mushroom hunters.