Possible chicken mushroom remains

Possible chicken mushroom remains

Last week while walking down a country lane, I spotted an old white oak tree with a strange pattern. It appeared that mushrooms had been harvested from the tree. Later that day I contacted Martha’s Mushrooms (on Facebook) to see if either Tavis or she could identify the remains. I did not hear from them. I took a mushroom class with him in Cumberland, WI, two weeks before I moved to Fitchburg, MA. You’ve got it. I delayed the move by one week so I could take the mushroom class. Believe me, I have been trying to learn about mushrooms both culinary and medicinal for a few years now. I must admit that this was the best mushroom class I have taken thus far. Tavis teaches the importance of learning about the trees first that are host to mushrooms. I was going about it all wrong before. I was just looking at the ground or trees to see if I saw any mushrooms. No, this method is the best one. Learn to identify aged trees first.

In the meantime, I went on the Internet to learn more about the species (Laetiporus sulphures). Steve Brill, New York City, has an educational video on shelf polypore (Poly means more than one or many; pore means the species has pores instead of teeth or gills). As the decaying mushroom displays, it is a shelf mushroom and there were many. But was it a chicken mushroom also known as sulphur mushroom because of its bright orange color and yellow bottom? Only finding another mushroom cluster on a similar tree (white oak) could possible identify the mushroom.

Three days ago I went out to the forest on a trail that is a protected watershed area. It wasn’t long before I spotted something bright orange peeking out from the backside of a rotting limb. Could it be a chicken mushroom? Steve Brill jokes that it is called chicken because sometimes the mushroom will  hide and grow on the back side of a tree.  I went over to investigate. Looking up into the ancient tree that was already breaking down, I did see that is was a still living white oak tree. Drats! I didn’t bring a camera  this weekend. Thus no photos. Again I went online at to explore further the possibly that it was indeed a chicken mushroom. Mind you, there is no look-alike to this mushroom so it is considered to be one of six mushrooms that are safe to eat.

Still I had to test it for 24 hours with a spore test. It has a white spore. Regrettably, I didn’t have black paper. Half the mushroom was placed on white paper and other half on green paper. Poor choice, but at least it didn’t give a black or purple spore print. It is important to place a glass over the mushroom being tested. This  insures that the spores don’t go into the air but onto the paper.

Tavis suggested that all mushrooms be cooked. One should never eat raw mushrooms. They may contain chemicals that are harmful but when cooked, the process takes away any danger.

Yesterday I went back to the site and with a sharp knife cut away at the mushroom similar to what I saw with the already harvested mushroom. I came home and weighted 6 pounds of mushrooms, cleaned, cut and cooked them for at least 10 minutes.

Recipe: Saute mushrooms in olive oil with fresh chopped parsley, garlic and onion. Afterwards the mushrooms were cooled and packaged in snack sized zip lock bags. I will bring them home today and put in the freezer. Chicken mushroom is reported as having a chicken flavor and can be used instead of chicken. I did try two tablespoons which is suggested when testing a mushroom. If one were to be poisoned, one would realize it very soon if one has a stomach upset. It is advised by Tavis to always keep a raw sample of the mushroom just in case one does eat a poisonous mushroom. At least with poisoning, infectious disease control could verify the poisoning if one needed treatment.

I regret that I will need to wait till next week before I hope to return to Winter Hill Farm with the camera. I hope there is some evidence of the mushroom in a young stage to photograph. Chicken mushrooms are known to give several flushes over a few years. I will check on both trees this spring, summer and next fall. Till then, happy mushrooming.

Be well insectamonarca friends where ever you are.



  1. @scshroom said,

    October 22, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    I’m visiting my mother in Oakham, Ma this Thanksgiving and looking forward to doing some mushrooming and find some chicken of the woods as she calls it – Is this what you have been calling a “chicken” mushroom?

    • October 26, 2012 at 2:39 pm

      Thanks for commmenting on Chicken of the woods mushroom. I call it chicken or shelf mushroom simply because there is another species “Hen of the woods” that is another species of edible mushroom. Yes it appears that your article is this species of mushroom. I hope you can find some when you come home to visit your mother. I was told that they may be harvestable through November. Best of luck in finding a cluster and welcome home for the holidays.

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