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Chicken Of The Woods

Edible Edible
Spring Spring
Summer Summer

Great in stews and casseroles in place of chicken, stir fries or marinated in a satay sauce and skewered. Must be cooked.

Mushroom Type
Common Names Chicken Of The Woods (EN, US), Sulphur Polypore (US), Sulphur Shelf (US), Ysgwydd Felen (CY), Żółciak Siarkowy (PL), Sárga Gévagomba (HU)
Scientific Name Laetiporus sulphureus
Synonyms Polyporus sulphureus
Season Start May
Season End Aug
Average Mushroom height (CM) 0
Average Cap width (CM) 45
Please note that each and every mushroom you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.

Fruiting Body

Globular and sulphur coloured to start with becoming fan-like and fading to pale yellow/ivory. Solid and meaty texture.


White to pale yellow tiny, angular pores.


Yellow/orange to ivory/white.


Grows in large tiers on the trunk and stumps of Oak,  Cherry, Sweet Chestnut, Willow and Yew. Great care should be taken if collecting from the poisonous Yew, see Other Facts below for more info.

Possible Confusion

When young it could be confused with Dryad’s Saddle (Cerioporus squamosus) or Giant Polypore (Meripilus giganteus) aka Blackening Polypore, pictured, but both are edible.
As it seems, we have at least three different Laetiporus species in Europe (and there are about five in North America, incl. our L. sulphureus):
Laetiporus montanus grows on Spruce and Larch trees in Central and Southern Europe above 1000m sea-level. We aren’t aware of its existence in the UK, but there is an ongoing research which wishes to determine the number of native Laetiporus species in the UK.
Laetiporus imbricatus looks just a bit paler than our Laetiporus sulphureus. It is native to the Mediterranean region, where it grows on Almond trees.

Spore Print

White. Ellipsoid to broadly ovate.

Taste / Smell

Mushroomy and said to taste like chicken to some, it has the same texture as chicken and is good in stews as a veggie ‘meat’. Best eaten young as the older specimens become woody and acrid to the taste. Should be cooked before consumption. Some people can have an allergic reaction so only a small amount should be tried when first tasting this mushroom. Also see Other Facts below for notes on Yew.


Fairly common.

Other Facts

One of the most common hosts for this fungus is the very poisonous Yew tree, and it is often said that the fungus will absorb the toxic alkaloids (Taxine and Taxane) from the tree. Some mycologists have said that this is unlikely, and some foragers have reported eating it from yew repeated times without any issue. However we have also had reports of severe gastric upsets after consumption from Yew. In any case, the toxic alkaloids found in Yew are very resilient and can be found even on dead wood and fallen needles. Therefore specimens collected from Yew should be very carefully inspected, trimmed and cleaned thoroughly to remove any needles or wood debris trapped inside. At this point we cannot recommend collecting Chicken of the Woods from Yew as safe. It is a common fungus and you should be able to find it in other trees.

Very popular in North America where they sometimes blanch and freeze it although when I have tried this it tends to become very woody, it is best eaten when young and fresh.


50 comments for Chicken Of The Woods

  1. Hirsh says:

    Several micologists fron LAMS had upset stomachs aftre. Eating theses sulfur shelvs off a pepper tree years ago . They were not positive of the type of tree, it could have been a eucliptis trer, however i have eaten many from the eucliptis.

  2. Matthew says:

    I saw a Chicken in the Woods Fungus in Owlbeech Woods in Horsham.

    I took the picture last year or the year before.

  3. Catherine Woodward says:

    I’ve just broken off some chicken of the woods near my home of Harold Hill, Romford. Some is in the pan as I write this. I’ve never seen or tried it before but when cut it’s uncanny how much it looks like chicken breast. Just got to see if it tastes like chicken.

    1. Su says:

      Hi there. I have been trying to find chicken of the woods for so long now but no luck. I was wondering where exactly you find chicken of the woods as I live near Romford.

      1. Eric Biggane says:

        It can be found anywhere in the UK, unfortunately, you just have to keep looking until you find some, it will usually grow back in on the same tree the following year.

  4. Rog T says:

    I Thoroughly enjoyed watching the video and many thanks. I had the great pleasure to try this amazing Mushroom in South Wales and was surprised how big the whole piece was,I suffered ni ill effects and Yes….it tastes like chicken ! although the person who foraged it said they had deliberately not taken all of it .

  5. Fiona Cooper says:

    I was served this in a restaurant in risotto. It was delicious, but tasted like it hadn’t been cooked much – quite woody…… three hours later I was dizzy and felt when I walked down the stairs like I was bouncing – basically tripping out. Beware, this defo needs to be well cooked.

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      Hi Fiona, some people are allergic to this mushroom so we never serve it to the general public. If you rub some of the mushroom on your lip and it swells up you are allergic to Chicken of the Woods.

  6. Mark says:

    I have a few kilos of cotw anyone know if it’s possible to sell? And where?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      It would be hard to sell as some people can become sick if eating this mushroom. I have seen some restaurants selling it but it would have to come from private land with the owners permission so sell it responsibly and legally.

  7. Restaurant Clicks says:

    Notebook opened. Taking notes. Thanks for the valuable post. I wish more people would talk about this subject as in depth as you.


  8. S Kinnear says:

    Found some, left it as wanted to research before harvesting, but will return and pick and try a small bit at first, people I know who have had it said its gorgeous, and they were ok, but will follow advice, give it 24 hrs

  9. Amanda Devenish says:

    Very informative video, the tip with this and Yew Trees could well be a life saver! I see this mushroom often in woods but have never tried it.

  10. David Barraclough says:

    I’ve repeatedly found large mushrooms on a tree that I would love to taste. What is the best means of getting confirmation that I’m dealing with the chicken of the woods.

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      Send in some photos of the top, the underside and where they are are growing to [email protected] and we’ll try to ID them for you.

  11. Zana says:

    Can CITW grow on timber, rather than trees? We have 2 “clumps” in our garden growing from wood retaining walls surrounding our patio but I want to check that it really is CITW before we eat it!

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      I’ve seen it growing on completely dead stumps, not timber but that doesn’t mean it can’t grow there. If you can send in some photos I’ll try to ID it for you.

    2. Martin Arcimovic says:

      That’s a myth. You absolutely can eat chicken of the woods from any fruit tree, they are softer and tastier than those from oaks or willows.
      According to a toxicologist that I have spoken to recently, even CoTW from some poisonous trees would be ok, but that depends on whether the toxins can get absorbed by the mushroom or not.

  12. Alex Chapman says:

    Absolutely gutted found some on Saturday on a really old dead stump. Not sure if it was a yew tree. Cleaned it up when I got home and didn’t have time to cook it up so put it in a bowl in paper towels. Came to cook it up tonight and it had a weird yellow coating all over it not looking that edible. I have been searching for this for a few years. Finally found it. And ballsed it up! 😭

  13. Heidi Turner says:

    I found a young small amount 3 days ago (it was dry, but has rained in between). Gone back today and it hasn’t grown at all. Should I leave it longer, or would that be he extent of growth?
    (The last I found quadrapled in 2 days, but on a river).

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      Really not sure, mushrooms are so random in growth and behaviour. I wouldn’t wait too long as they can get tough and fibrous quite quickly.

      1. Heidi Turner says:

        Thank you. I’ll go back for it tomorrow.

  14. David Ardley says:

    I have read that you should not eat chicken of the woods if it was growing on a cherry tree. Would this be correct? I know not to eat it from the Yew tree but have found some on a cherry tree today, I dont know whether to try some or not.

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      I have not heard about avoiding mushrooms growing on Cherry trees, does anybody have any info on this?

      1. Alex says:

        We have a 65+ years-old black cherry plum in our front garden, and for the last few years it has produced lovely big clumps of chicken of the woods once or twice a year. We’ve eaten it pan-fried several times with no ill effects, and plan to have it again for dinner today after harvesting a 900g clump. Cannot speak for other species of cherry, and we are known for having cast-iron stomachs, so anything you decide to do is at your own risk.

  15. Stephen Tullett says:

    I took a slice from a beautiful orange & bright yellow specimen in hospital grounds north of London, growing on the stump of a tree (variety unknown but probably deciduous). Going back 3 days later the brightness had faded to that off-putting, off-yellow colour so no more was taken. The first slice was as clean as a whistle inside, no pest damage at all. Eating this one always seems more about the meaty texture than flavour, though it takes added seasonings and flavours well.

  16. Nham. says:

    Does anyone know where I can buy this mushroom in the uk. Prefer fresh not dried.

  17. Paul David Gatford says:

    Please can anyone help me I live in DROITWICH Spa Worcestershire I would like to go foraging but have no transport and sadly we are drastically losing local Woodlands for more housing I can’t drive because of health problems I would like someone who is qualified to offer to take me and teach me what I can legally forage and what is safe to cook and eat so I can take something back home so I can cook.

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      Hi Paul, We don’t have any courses within walking distance from Droitwich Spa but we can come to you if you book a private course, these are cheaper from Mon to Thurs and if you get some friends to share the costs with you it can work out fairly inexpensive.

  18. K Thacker says:

    Found my first cotw today. It was so yellow and gorgeous. It was on birch. I haven’t seen birch mentioned. Is this common?

  19. Yardley says:

    I had a slight trippy experience yesterday with COTW (fallen sweet chestnut). Not unpleasant and walked it off. Tried again tonight blanching it first, then served it honey-glazed with a foraged bilberry peppercorn sauce. A little on the tough side, but delicious, and… still a little bit trippy,… or perhaps I just find the whole experience ecstatic?

  20. Corry says:

    Ive been looking for COTW for years and finally found a lovely specimen growing inside a hollow oak tree. Cooked it for breakfast, it is just like chicken! However I am so so disappointed it made me violently sick. (My partner was fine). I guess Im one of those people who are just sensitive to it? Or could it be that I didn’t cook it well enough?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      Unfortunately, not everyone can eat Chicken of the Woods.

  21. Karen says:

    Can I buy this in powder form anywhere?

  22. Anna says:

    Where can I buy them I live in UK

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      I don’t know of anybody selling Chicken of the Woods but your best bet would be the wild mushroom stall at Borough Market, London Bridge. They sell a huge variety of wild mushrooms.

  23. Elaine Binns says:

    Just found and ate my first COTW it was nice, no ill effects also made nettle soup which was easy and tasty. Feeling adventurous 😂

  24. Edward Chrzanowski says:

    I have a dead Italian plum tree that most of the branches fell down in a storm. I left the stump.
    This year I had a gorgeous COTW growing out from the side of the stump. Hopefully, more will
    grow next year. I also had morrell mushrooms growing under my pear tree one year.

  25. Ed says:

    Found an amazing COTW today(Monday 15th), cut it off at about 10a.m but want to eat it tomorrow(Tuesday 16th) evening for tea.
    Will it stay edible if left until then?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      It will be safe to eat but mushrooms are always better fresh.

      1. Ed says:

        Thanks for the reply. We had it last night coated in cornflour to crisp up then once cooked tossed in a Chinese salt & pepper seasoning. It was superb!

  26. Peter whiteley says:

    Season is supposed to end about now, but i haven’t seen any until this week in my local haunts. They’re just starting to show, and i’ve just fried
    around a pound of it in butter, and scoffed the lot. Don’t know about chicken, but mine tasted like a mature cheddar cheese omelete! Very tasty indeed.

  27. Jim Sullivan says:

    I have just harvested 6lbs of chicken of the woods from an oak that fell 10 years ago.
    1) Can I store at room temperature? If not what is best way to store?
    2) Will it cook in a 2 litre air fryer?
    3) What is best recipe?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      The mushroom is best cooked into a stew, satay cubes, battered and deep fried or any dish where you would use chicken and then frozen, they won’t last long at room temperature or in the fridge and don’t freeze well before cooking. I’ve never used an air fryer so I can’t answer point 2.

  28. John Sherry says:

    Found a huge (about the size of a small dustbin) COTW this year on a moribund oak tree near us here in Devon. The owner was happy for us to harvest some but as the tree is close to the public highway he has been advised to cut it down (below the level of the exuberant fungus) in case it falls on the road. I expect that the Chicken has been a significant part of the Oak’s demise. I will inspect the stump next year in the hope that it might regrow from lower down. Good texture and flavour.

  29. Mandy Donaldson says:

    Found loads of it in the woods at Dalgety Bay in Fife. Took 2 but it would appear they are to mature. Going back tomorrow with a sharp knife.

  30. Sparkle Robinson says:

    Hi all. Just found these two (just 2) on a very dead ash stump about a foot off the ground next to a stream with many other deciduous trees around. Do we think this is my first COTW find? Any comments would be appreciated.

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      I’m afraid no images came through but you can send photos to admin@wildfooduk and we will try to ID the mushrooms for you.

  31. George Tondryk says:

    I have eaten COTW for a number of years, usually sliced, coated with beaten egg and breadcrumbs then fried in butter.
    I have skim read all the other comments and not seen anything about soaking the sliced mushroom first.
    I cut it into slices about 10mm thick and then soak the slices in cold water. Change the water a number of times until it no-longer turns yellow.
    Any bitterness (or toxins) will have dissipated by then.

    As an aside, if you have collected the Beefsteak Fungus, perform the same soaking regimen and you will end up with a much tastier product.

  32. Aleksandra says:

    Hi there,
    has anyone had any lack with it in the Scottish Highlands / Moray?

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