Chicken Of The Woods, An Easy To ID Meat Substitute

our facebook page for additional articles and updates.

Follow us on Twitter @EatThePlanetOrg

Chicken of the Woods
Chicken of the Woods. Notice the Porous bottom surface. They do not have gills. (Photo By: Jim Champion / Wikimedia Commons)

If you’re a beginner to fungus foraging, Chicken of the woods( Genus: Laetiporus) is a great fungus to seek out because it’s widespread in The United States and easy to distinguish from any look-a-likes as long as you know a few fundamental identification features. There are a number of species in the genus that all look very similar, and are all considered to be edible, a very common species is Laetiporus Sulphureus, which grows in the Northeast and feeds more on hard woods like oak rather than softwoods.

Edibility And Culinary Use

Younger brackets are edible cooked. As they get old they dry out and become inedible.  This fungus’ claim to fame is its chicken-like fibrous texture.  The taste is bland but can pick up other flavors that it’s cooked with.  You can fry, bake or boil chicken of the woods, these cooking methods produce slightly different textures and give you some options for preparation. Here is a simple chicken of the woods recipe.

Health Benefits

Chicken of the woods has the ability to inhibit certain bacteria like staph bacteria(Staphylococcus aureus). It may also help prevent absorption of nutrients  into cancerous cells.

Chicken of the Woods
Chicken of the Woods

Key ID Features

This fungus only grows on trees, either living or dead. Different species grow on different types of trees including hardwoods and softwoods, as well as different heights in the tree.  This fungus is a type of polypore which means that it has pores(small holes) on the underside, instead of gills.  The part that most people would call a mushroom is referred to as a bracket when it is a polypore growing from a tree and has no stalk.  The top of the bracket is orange/yellow and grows in a shelf-like pattern, hence one common name, sulfur shelf Mushroom.  There is typically a lighter colored margin at the edge of the bracket about 1/2″ thick(see photo).  The underside is lighter than the top and can range from white to yellow. The pores of this species are very small and dense so you will have to look closely to see them. Once you have found the fungus, chances are it will be in the same spot for a few years before it dies. You can also install chicken of the woods spawn plugs in a hardwood log or stump and grow your own.


 Laetiporus Sulphureus
Laetiporus Sulphureus on Willow Tree( Photo By: Andy Potter /

There are some minor cautions with chicken of the woods.  There have been rare reports of minor reactions in sensitive people including, swollen lips, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and disorientation.  These reactions may be due to a number of causes including, allergies to the fungus, individual reactions to the fungus’s proteins, toxins absorbed by woods such as eucalyptus or cedar, and eating old decaying brackets.


For expert and beginner fungus foragers alike Chicken of the Woods should be a staple wild edible. Its easy to identify, has no known deadly look-a-likes, and a texture that works well in many culinary dishes. This fungus is often perennial, so once you find it, you can return year after year to harvest.

Read our Article on: Safe Foraging

Celebrate our Most Popular Article With This Exclusive T-Shirt!!

Visit our store by clicking on THIS LINK to get this t-Shirt which was designed exclusively for viewers which means it can not be purchased anywhere else on the internet. This shirt reads "Sassafras- The Radical Root". Our most popular article Sassafras, An Illegal Substance That Grows Wild In Our Back Yards inspired us to design this sassafras t-shirt
Many of our readers find that subscribing to Eat The Planet is the best way to make sure they don't miss any of our valuable information about wild edibles.

Subscribe to our mailing list

our facebook page for additional articles and updates.

Follow us on Twitter @EatThePlanetOrg

Lion's mane mushroom
Lion’s Mane Mushroom Recipe
Read more.
Amaranthus retroflexus, Common Amaranth leaves and flower seed stalks
Jamaican Callaloo Soup Recipe
Read more.
Giant Puffball
Breaded Puffball Mushroom Recipe
Read more.
Lentinula edodes, Shiitake Mushrooms growing on a log
Shiitake Mushroom Recipe
Read more.
Hen of the Woods
Quick Sautéed Hen of the woods Recipe
Read more.
Amelanchier lamarckii fruit and leaves
Serviceberry Muffins
Read more.
Chenopodium album, Lamb's Quarters leaf
Garlic Lamb’s Quarters Recipe
Read more.
Sheep's Sorrel leaves
Tangy Sorrel Salad Recipe
Read more.
A Spicy Bittercress Sautée
Read more.
Rose of Sharon Flower
Rose of Sharon Buds Sautéed with Onion and Garlic
Read more.

2 comments on “Chicken Of The Woods, An Easy To ID Meat Substitute

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>