Chicken of the Woods - Laetiporus

Chicken of the Woods


Chicken of the woods mushroom, also known as a sulfur polypore, is a bracket fungus that can be commonly seen growing on oak, chestnut, and beech trees.

  • Plant Family: Fomitopsidaceae
  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Other names: The Chicken Mushroom, Chicken fungus, Sulfur shelf, Sulfur polypore
  • Medicinal: Yes
  • Culinary: Yes
  • Ceremonial: No
  • Parts Used: Fruiting Body
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About Chicken of the Woods

Chicken of the woods mushroom, also known as a sulfur polypore, is a bracket fungus that can be commonly seen growing on oak, chestnut, and beech trees. They appear in the form of wavy brackets, stacked over one another. They are soft to touch with moist yellow-orange flesh. 

Each bracket can be 3-15 inch wide and 1-5 inch thick. Their color can range from yellow to cream yellow with orange or pink stained bands on the edges. Beneath each bracket, there are oval-shaped tubes. They are a common sight in the hardwood forests of eastern North America 

There is a significant possibility that the chicken of the woods has killed its host tree because it acts as a parasite. But the fungus, which attacks the tree in the form of mushroom-free mycelium, doesn't start producing mushrooms until much later. As far as the health of the tree is concerned, by the time the chickens come home to roost, the fungus cannot be "eradicated" by removing the mushrooms.

It is a medicinal mushroom, possessing antibacterial, antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-diabetic properties. Recently, it has been found to impart hormone-balancing aid too in females.


Chicken of the woods can be started any time of the year if you are growing them on your own. To begin the process, cut the log of healthy and alive hardwood species of the oak tree, ranging anywhere between 8” x 8” to 11” x 11”. The log is then sterilized and steamed to be inoculated with the spawn from top to bottom.

The log is then incubated in the spawn bag for 2-3 months at room temperature (55-70 ℉). After the completion of the incubation period, the logs are buried outdoors in the soil, leaving 2-4 inches of the log above the ground. After approximately 1 year, the logs initiate the process of fruiting that continues for years.

Chicken of the Woods Mushroom can take almost a year to start fruiting. They usually fruit from summer to early fall each year. Even after harvesting, the body doesn’t stop producing the fruit because the hyphae penetrate into the log. They are responsible for producing fungal fruiting bodies by decomposing the organic matter of the logs and extracting the nutrients. 

The fruiting bodies themselves also produce haploid spores (through the process of meiosis). The spores are carried through the wind and find another substrate (log) to settle and create their own hyphae to form new fruiting bodies.




Chicken of the Woods Mushrooms can be harvested any time from summer through fall, making sure to harvest young and firm fruiting bodies.

Chicken of the Woods mushrooms can be easily sliced off from the log using a sharp knife.

Chicken of the Woods Mushrooms are cleaned, making sure that any wooden part, dirt, or insect-devoured portion is removed, and kept in a zip-lock bag. The bag is then recommended to be vacuum-sealed and frozen for later use. 


Apart from being a sensational chicken substitute, Chicken of the Woods mushrooms have plenty of medicinal properties and they are used to form different medicinal preparations.

Tincture: The mushroom is macerated in alcohol for 3-5 weeks to form its tincture.

Tea: A well-matured dried mushroom can be chopped and steeped in hot water to make its tea.