AKA "Chicken mushroom"

I’m thinking most mushroom hunters know this mushroom well. If you don’t take a minute to learn it now. When it is young and fresh it has the flavor and texture of white meat chicken and a single specimen can provide a large quantity of food. I found one last Sunday, filled my ½ bushel peach basket to overflowing and didn’t pick half of it.

When searching for edibles don’t just look at the ground. Check out the trees, especially any which appear to be in decline. Chicken mushrooms grow on wood and while I have found them fruiting from roots many more finds have been up on the trunk.  Indeed some have been well out of reach leaving me like the fox and the grapes trying to convince my self that it was probably too old and tough anyway.

The bright orange fronds of the chicken can sometimes be spotted from quite a distance, so scan through the trees for a glimpse of color. When you find those overlapping layers carefully cut one off and have a look underneath. Chickens are in the polypore family and their pore surface is a bright sulphur yellow. If you find one that is a bit more red rather than orange and the pore surface is white rather than yellow you’ve found a cousin, L. cincinnatus which IMHO is an even better edible.

I think the chicken takes a bit more cooking than other edibles, but if you persevere you’ll be rewarded with tender chicken-like morsels. Use them as you would chicken. I’ve had “chicken” salad, cream of “chicken” soup, and “chicken” with rice. Etc. etc..

Steve Peek
Field mycologist and long standing member of the Asheville Mushroom 

(Images by: Mushroom Mountain)