Sunday, October 21, 2012
Chicken of the Woods
This is "Chicken of the Woods" or "Sulfur Shelf" (Laetiporus sulphureus) seen today on a dead oak in the Divine woods. This meaty wild mushroom according to Mushrooms of North America is "the most popular edible polypore. Fresh young specimens are delicious..." However, I enjoy wild mushrooms solely as works of art. Chicken of the Woods (not to be confused with "Hen of the Woods" (Grifola frondosa)), is parasitical, and in its early stages, attacks a tree's heartwood, and by the time the "chickens" you see here appear on the tree bark, "they are definitely coming home to roost, as far as the tree's health is concerned," says Mushroomexpert.com. You can see that the undersides of this tree fungus are sulfur yellow. Looking into joining the local mycological society, I found its homepage plastered with dozens of warnings: They are NOT RESPONSIBLE if you go hunting mushrooms with them, then eat one and croak! I didn't feel the love. For comparison, here's the spectacular 24-ounce Grifola frondosa I found in the woods in October 2008.