Yesterday afternoon my friend Jamie sent me pictures of a spectacular chicken of the woods, asking me if in fact it was a chicken he had found. Chicken of the woods, or Laetiporus sulphureus, is also sometimes called the sulphur shelf. Most of us mushroom hounds just call them chickens. Jamie had indeed found a spectacular example.
This morning I had a few hours in the morning, so I loaded George into the mushroom-mobile (Memphis is recovering very well from surgery but it will be another couple weeks before she’s ready to romp in the woods) and headed to the Enchanted Mushroom Forest. I stopped at forest I know grows some good boletes – and I saw several in there – but they were mostly well past their best before date. Not to be deterred, I drove further up the road to another forest where I often find lobster mushrooms. I knew George would like this spot too because there is a great place to swim.
We were not 100 feet into the forest when I spotted a small chicken a few feet from this popular trail. How curious, I thought, finding a chicken the day after Jamie found one. In my neck of the woods, chickens are not that common. I continued down the trail, looking for lobsters, but the only ones I saw were in poor condition. Not far along, I saw the most beautiful sight, about 20 or 30 feet in from the trail. Another chicken, and a beauty too!
This chicken of the woods was young and fresh and perfect. I had one of those large re-usable grocery bags stuffed in my pocket, and I filled it up. That’s a lot of mushrooms. Chickens are choice edibles too.
I called up my brother the trout, Salvelinas Fontinalis and arranged to meet him for coffee on the way home. I gave him a big bag of mushrooms, and gave some to neighbours when I got home as well – and still, I have loads. One thing about chickens, when you find one you often find a huge amount.
Chicken of the woods are easy to identify and easy to see in the woods too, orange on top and yellow underneath. They really are a spectacular find.