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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, Sulphur Polypore
Scientific Name Laetiporus 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.

Pores

White to pale yellow tiny, angular pores.

Flesh

Yellow/orange to ivory/white.

Habitat

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 the Dryads Saddle or Blackening Polypore, pictured, but both are edible.

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.

Frequency

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.

COMMENTS

23 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.
    Hirsh

  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.

  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.

    https://restaurantclicks.com

  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.

  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?

  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.

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