chicken of the woods

Foraging Fungi: Chicken of the Woods

Chicken of the woods is a variety of edible tree mushroom that’s common in woodlands the world over. It’s name is derived from the fact that it has a taste and texture similar to chicken (everything really does taste like chicken!) As with all fungi, don’t eat it unless you are sure you’ve correctly identified it.

Chicken of the woods is a good option for beginner foragers as it’s distinct orange/yellow colour and firm, rubbery texture are easy to spot. Chicken of the woods is a Laetiporus—a genus of edible shelf mushrooms. Its name is Laetiporus sulphureus, AKA Sulphur shelf, or chicken fungus, which sounds less appealing to me.

Chicken of the woods is not the same as hen of the woods (AKA ram’s head) or the Colonel’s own Fried Chicken mushroom AKA Lyophyllum decastes.


Look to the trees, my friend, to find fungi growing in shelves that range from 5-30cm (2-12”). This fungi likes to take hold where the tree has been broken or injured. They love oak, but will settle for hardwoods like cherry, beech, willow, yew, sweet chestnut, eucalyptus and even conifers. They are parasitic and will feed on the tree and cause it to rot, negatively impacting the health and longevity of the tree.

Chicken of the woods has a bright white to yellow or orange body. There are no gills, but small tubes on the underside of the shelf. Our sweet chicken of the woods grows from spring to autumn and will grow on the same tree year after year if conditions are good.

It can be prepared in the same way you cook chicken and can act as a substitute for this white meat in recipes. Despite it being considered edible, always try a little first to ensure you do not have a negative reaction.


Nikki is an author and writer specializing in green living ideas and tips, adventure travel, upcycling, and all things eco-friendly. She's traveled the globe, swum with sharks and been bitten by a lion (fact). She lives in a tiny town with a fat cat and a very bad dog.

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