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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.


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 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.


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.


13 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.

  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.

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