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Quick facts

Common names: chicken of the woods, chicken mushroom, sulphur shelf, sulphur polypore

Scientific name: Laetiporus sulphureus

Family: Polyporaceae

Fruiting season: late spring to autumn

Habitat: tree trunks in broadleaf woodland

What does chicken of the woods look like?

A thick, fleshy bracket fungus, bright creamy yellow with bands of orange when young, fading to cream with age. It has succulent, soft and moist crumbly flesh. The upper surface is velvety, and underneath it has very small pores. It has a strong ‘fungusy’ smell.

Fruit body: bracket-form with round, yellow pores.

Spores: white, sometimes pale yellow.

Not to be confused with: giant polypore (Meripilus giganteus), which is very similar but brown in colour.

Where to find chicken of the woods

Chicken of the woods is a common species in the UK. It grows mainly on oak tree trunks, but can also be seen on the trunks of yew, cherry, sweet chestnut and willow from late spring to autumn.

Chicken of the woods growing on dead tree

Credit: www.pqpictures.co.uk / Alamy Stock Photo

Value to wildlife

Chicken of the woods is a vital species, supporting a host of wildlife. There are some specialist beetles which only feed on bracket fungi like chicken of the woods, including the hairy fungus beetle (Pseudotriphyllus suturalis). It is also eaten by deer.

Uses of chicken of the woods

Chicken of the woods fungus is edible, although it does not agree with everyone. It has been known to cause dizziness and stomach upset. It is inedible when found growing on a poisonous tree, like yew.

Did you know?

It creates brittle brown rot and hollows out heartwood, leaving the living sapwood of the tree untouched.