Thursday, October 1, 2009

Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus and cincinnatus)

Season: June-October
Edibility: Yummy (just get it young)
Defining characteristics: Bright to pale orange surface, bright yellow to white underside.  Pores, not gills.  Growing at the base of oak trees or on dead wood in clusters that can be spectacular and huge (50 pounds plus)

Last week I came across the mushrooms shown here.  A large dead oak tree fell over about a month ago and within two weeks these Laetiporus sulphureus started growing!  It is quite likely that the mushroom may have actually contributed to the death and collapse of the tree, but at least some good came from its death (those mushrooms are delicious).

We are lucky to have two distinct species of the Chicken of the Woods growing here in Rhode Island.  Laetiporus sulphureus (shown here) grows primarily on dead wood and has a brighter orange color, and a vivid yellow underside.  Laetiporus cincinatus has a white underside and is normally found at the base of oak trees (around my house it has been more common this year, although you tend to find just one cluster on a tree).  Taste-wise the cincinatus is reported to be more tender, which I would agree with so far.

There are reported allergic reactions in a small percentage of people who eat this mushroom (just like with most foods) so as always exercise caution when tasting it for the first time!

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Even my cat was impressed...

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Any dangerous look alikes to this? I'm looking for the beefsteak , and these in my forests here in aus.