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.
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.
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.)
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.”
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?
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