Mushrooms - chicken of the woods

Seriously, Does This Mushroom Taste Like Chicken?

My daughter and I took a walk in the woods.

We were just looking to take some photos and ended up finding a mushroom, and I guess we hit the mother lode. This monster mushroom grew on the side of a dead tree just outside our little town and it is so big and brightly colored that you can see it from quite a distance.  We had originally gone out looking for Monkey Brains or Hedge Apples ( Osage Oranges) that I wrote about in this post. 

Mushrooms - The-hypertufa-gardener

Note:  I still do put these monkey brains around my foundation each year to repel spiders from coming into the house in winter. BTW, we found about three bushel and had enough for all our houses! Score!

Back to the Mushroom!

There is this large dead tree just outside town and we went walking near an old empty house and we saw from a distance this huge “growth” on the side of this tree. Bright orange and shelf like, but it looked like ruffles or ruching in orange and yellow with white.

photo of fungus - Chicken of the Woods
DO NOT eat any mushroom unless you are absolutely certain of its identity

Right up front, let me say, I am not a mushroom hunter. I have never cared for the taste. And I know I wouldn’t know an edible mushroom if it jumped into my bag.  All of the mushrooms to me just seem like corn smut. And we know how unappetizing that stuff is………and it is a delicacy, I understand. Don’t put it on my plate!  Here’s a photo of corn smut. 

 I was raised a country girl and I have seen my share of that stuff. Perhaps it’s why I won’t eat mushrooms?  ( More post about my Backyard Flower Garden.)

orange ground fungus in the woods
Similar? Maybe Dryad’s Saddle?

After seeing this specimen, I had to google its description and found Laetiporus sulphureus or Chicken of the Woods mushroom. It is a mushroom which grows on dead or dying hardwoods such as oak and maple, walnut and  hickory. We have a lot of these in our forests around Ohio and this mushroom is a very common one.

This large one in the photo above is about the size of a five gallon bucket….huge, right?  I understand that the smaller you find it, the better the flavor. So this one may be tough, but I am not going to eat it anyway.  Supposedly, a younger one will run with water when you cut if off the tree.  The larger ones are edible but are just “tougher.”

Mushroom-Chicken-of-the-woods3 - The-Hypertufa-Gardener

This photo above is one of the mushrooms closer to the ground so I was able to get a shot of it from above. This tree was a standing dead tree so most of the mushroom “sulphur shelf” was about head high or higher. But a few smaller pieces were closer to the ground.

I didn’t find any information on why this mushroom  is called Chicken of the Woods other than it smells and tastes like chicken (according to some sources.) But other sources say no odor, so perhaps it is because it looks like chicken fillets when it is cut up to saute.

Or is it because it looks like stacks of the combs on the head of a chicken? If you know, please let the rest of us know too?

Mushroom-Chicken-of-the-woods2 - The-Hypertufa-Gardener

Caution:  I don’t know anything about mushrooms, so please be cautious if you decide to try to collect these. Or any mushroom for that matter. Only harvest and eat when you are positive that you have the true edible variety that you are looking for, OK?

It is said these mushrooms grows on conifers too, but that the flavor is affected by the essences in that wood. I hope you find the “good” one if you go hunting.

Another type of mushroom is the maitake mushroom (Grifola frondosa)  or Hen of the Woods. This one is usually at the base of the tree and is more gray in color. I will also stay away from that one since it sounds even less appetizing to me.

DO NOT eat any mushroom unless you are absolutely certain of its identity

Additional information:

The Chicken of the Woods Mushroom

Maitake Mushroom – Hen of the Woods







  1. Wonderful photos! Thank you for sharing your mushroom hunt. hope that everyone can understand that aside from the possible medicinal use of shrooms they are also good source of nutrients.

  2. Super cool! My family gathers, cooks, and eats chicken of the woods often. My husband loves them! Interestingly, I’m a vegetarian, and I have been for more than 20 years. To me, the taste is so much like chicken that I find it hard to eat.

    1. Thank you for letting me know! Awesome. I just can’t imagine it tasting like chicken. The wonders of nature!

  3. Wow! That’s QUITE a mushroom! (And I LOVE collecting Osage Orange seeds… they’re so pretty!)

    1. Yes, it was. And it seems we are feeding the squirrels with the Osage Oranges. They devour them!

  4. The people in my mushroom groups would get real excited about that! I’d love to find a huge one, myself. Their texture looks like cooked chicken and there are recipes for using them. Mushrooms can be fun to hunt for, but some of them are poisonous, so be sure to have a good guide book. Anyone interested in learning more might consider joining a FB group of enthusiasts.

    1. I think I would a book guide and a live guide with me, someone knows for sure if it is edible.

  5. That is prettiest mushroom I’ve ever seen. I like mushrooms but would never eat one I gathered from the wild. I would eat mushrooms from a kit, because I’d know what kind they are and that they’re safe. I know a lot of people who hunt and eat morels, but I.just.can’t.

    1. It is ( or was ) pretty. Such a bright color that you see driving by.

  6. I am definitely not a mushroom hunter – but I have thought about trying to grow my own mushrooms from a kit! We have tons of random mushrooms growing everywhere around here.

    1. Thanks for your visit. It would be interesting to grow some mushrooms from a kit! Great idea

  7. I like mushrooms, but would never go picking my own to eat. When we were kids, my siblings and I brought home some brightly colored mushrooms (or toadstools)…not to eat, we knew better, but because they were pretty. Later, they were covered in dead flies!

    1. I have picked mushrooms just to squish them. They have the weirdest texture. And you do notice on the blog all my warnings about not eating when you are not positive about the identity.

  8. I adore the flavor of mushrooms, BUT would never feel safe eating wild ones. Mushrooms can flavor a dish, provide hallucinations, or kill you. I would prefer to eat the ones that only flavor my food, thank you very much! 🙂 Though I agree that the name and the photo of corn smut is disgusting, I believe it is the same thing as huitlacoche which is a Mexican delicacy that I love. Hmmm, I am sticking with huitlacoche as the name. Eating corn smut sounds aweful!

    1. Kim Smith says:

      Yes, I agree. And that corn smut is awful looking. It makes we wonder who began eating it in the first place.

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