Mushroom Chicken of the Woods in Prospect Park, Brooklyn; New York City.

On Wednesday, September 1, 2021, I saw this gorgeous orange and creamy/yellow mushroom in Prospect Park, in the borough of Brooklyn, New York City.

This is the edible mushroom laetiporus sulphureus, sulphur shelf, chicken of the woods, the chicken mushroom, or the chicken fungus.

laetiporus sulphureus

“Laetiporus is a genus of edible mushrooms found throughout much of the world. Some species, especially Laetiporus sulphureus, are commonly known as sulphur shelf, chicken of the woods, the chicken mushroom, or the chicken fungus because it is often described as tasting like and having a texture similar to that of chicken meat. The name “chicken of the woods” is not to be confused with another edible polypore, Maitake (Grifola frondosa) known as “hen of the woods”, or with Lyophyllum decastes, known as the “fried chicken mushroom”. The name Laetiporus means “with bright pores”.

The sulphur shelf mushroom sometimes comes back year after year when the weather suits its sporulation preferences. From late spring to early autumn, the sulphur shelf thrives, making it a boon to mushroom hunters and a bane to those concerned about the health of their trees. This fungus causes a brown cubical rot and embrittlement which in later stages ends in the collapse of the host tree, as it can no longer flex and bend in the wind.

The mushroom can be prepared in most ways that one can prepare chicken meat. It can also be used as a substitute for chicken in a vegetarian diet. Additionally, it can be frozen for long periods of time and retain its edibility. In certain parts of Germany and North America, it is considered a delicacy.

In some cases eating the mushroom “causes mild reactions … for example, “swollen lips” or in rare cases “nausea, vomiting, dizziness and disorientation” to those who are sensitive. This is believed to be due to a number of factors that include allergies to the mushroom’s protein or toxins which are only somewhat stable at high temperatures. As such, many field guides request that those who eat Laetiporus exercise caution by only eating fresh, young brackets and begin with small quantities to see how well it sits in their stomach.”