Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fungus ID: Chicken of the Woods

Back in early July I was headed to work one day when I noticed this in a small planted area in Central Park. The environment is an isolated triangle of turf with a few oaks planted throughout it. This cool looking fungus, about 6" x 6" with amazing orange coloration, was pretty but I had no idea what it was, though it made perfect sense to be around given the super saturated June we had. I figured it had to be growing off of the roots of the oaks as the only other thing growing was the turf. You see, grass does best in a more bacteria-based soil while trees and shrubs prefer and have more symbiotic relationships with different kinds of fungus. So realizing my mycological skills are lacking I had to email my good friend and trusted mycologist Rachel and get her opinion. I gave her the basic rundown and luckily she was able to identify it, or at least we both think it's the best guess so far. Below is what Rachel had to say.
Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus)
Single to overlapping clusters of fleshy, smooth, orange-red to orange-yellow caps with sulfur-yellow pores (not gills) beneath. Grows on stumps, trunks, and logs of deciduous and coniferous trees; also on living trees and buried roots.
(From Audubon Society Field Guide to Mushrooms)

That sound right? From where it's at it sounds like it could be feeding on some buried rotten roots. This website says that once you see these fungi on a tree, you can be pretty sure the game is over, which may be useful information for ya.

And bonus: it's supposedly deelish. Tastes like Chicken. I think for the most part you're safe with polypores, but everybody reacts to mushrooms differently. I'd hate to be responsible for liquifying your insides. A bit more info about edibility here.

Anyways, it's a cool mushie! I remember seeing a really big Chicken of the Woods at NEWFS in the garden. It was *bright* orange. Pretty beautiful stuff.

Thanks for a reason to break out the mushroom books!

Thank you Rachel!

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