Chicken of the Woods is an amazing mushroom that is known for its taste. Somehow, it tastes exactly like chicken! Sure, they say that about everything but it’s not just the flavor, it’s also the looks and texture. If you follow my blog then you may be feeling some déjà vu. Beware, chicken of the woods is very different from the hen of the woods.
“This mushroom is a polypore, meaning they disperse spores through small pores (holes) on the underside of their caps. Chickens are easily recognized by their large clusters of overlapping brackets, and bright yellow-orangish colors. The colors fade as the mushroom grows older.”Mushroom Appreciation
Chicken of the woods mushrooms are among the easiest to identify. They are bright orange and they grow in clusters on certain types of trees. Generally, they grow on oak, cheery and beech trees. They are a parasite and grow on dead or dying trees. Although they can sometimes grow on eucalyptus, cedar or conifers as well, they shouldn’t be eaten if found here. When they grow on these trees, they are more likely to cause gastric distress which is unpleasant but not necessarily dangerous.
Speaking of danger, I need to include my usual disclaimer about mushroom picking. It can be dangerous and even deadly to pick and eat wild mushrooms. Foraging of any kind should be done with an expert. There are many books, communities and courses you can take that will make it safer for you to go out and pick wild mushrooms. This article alone is not enough.
“This mushroom is a polypore, meaning they disperse spores through small pores (holes) on the underside of their caps. Chickens are easily recognized by their large clusters of overlapping brackets, and bright yellow-orangish colors. The colors fade as the mushroom grows older.”
When to Look?
In New England, chickens grow in the forest between August and October. Unlike hens, they only grow once a year and once harvested will take another year to grow back. You should still memorize the spots where you find them as long as you’re patient enough to wait a year. Which you should be, because they are worth it!
If you want more info on these mushrooms and help identifying chickens and other mushrooms, I strongly recommend this YouTube channel. This guy is great and knows so much about mushrooms. Like me, he will give you a bunch of disclaimers. Seriously, begin this hobby with an expert by your side or attend a class. It really is a lot of fun once you get started!