Laetiporus sulphureus

Scientific name:   Laetiporus sulphureus (Bull.) Murrill
Derivation of name:   Laet- means "pleasing" or "bright"
or "abundant" and por- means "pores." Sulphureus
refers to "sulphur yellow."
Synonymy:   Polyporus sulphureus Bull.: Fr.
Common names:   Chicken of the woods, chicken
mushroom, sulphur shelf.
Phylum:   Basidiomycota
Order:   Polyporales
Family:   Fomitopsidaceae
Occurrence on wood substrate:  Parasitic and saprobic;
solitary or more commonly in compound clusters and
rosettes on living and dead hardwood tree trunks, logs, and
stumps, particularly oak (Quercus); May through
Dimensions:  Individual caps 5-30 cm wide; clusters up to
75 cm across.  
Upper surface:  Bright to dull orange, fading to pale
orange and white in age; radially wrinkled and roughened;
Pore surface: Sulphur-yellow; pores 3-4 per mm.
Edibility: Edible, considered choice, but up to 20% of
people eating this species suffer mild to moderate
gastrointestinal upset and/or other symptoms.
Comments: One of the largest and most colorful fungi, it is
also considered a choice edible with tender portions tasting
like white chicken meat. Individual allergies can occur and
specimens growing on certain substrates or consumed with
alcohol are reported to cause digestive system upset.
Utilizing molecular techniques and mating
incompatibility studies, Burdsall and Banik (2001)
recognize L. sulphureus as one of six species of
in North America, three of which occur in
the Northeast.

More information at  
More information at

Figure 1. The distinctive orange caps with paler margins of
Laetiporus sulphureus. Photo © George Morrison.

Figure 2. Laetiporus sulphureus on the trunk of a
standing tree. Note the wrinkling of the cap surfaces
and margins. Photo  © Fred Habegger.

Figure 3. A profuse fruiting of chicken-of-the-woods.
Photo © Roseann K. Sachs.

Figure 4. This award-winning photograph by John
Plischke III clearly shows the sulphur-yellow pore
surface of the chicken mushroom.
Photo © John Plischke III.

Figure 5. The yellow pore surface of Laetiporus
Laetiporus means "pleasing" or "beautiful"
pores. Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 6. The orange-capped specimen is that of a
look-alike species, Laetiporus cincinnatus. Among the
differences between the two species, note the white pore
surface of L. cincinnatus (bottom left) compared to the
yellow pore surface of Laetiporus sulphureus (two small
pieces on bottom right). Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 7. A beautiful specimen of chicken mushroom
growing on a fallen tree. Photo © Dorothy Smullen.

Figure 8. Sauteed chicken of the woods. Although quite
edible for many, see the notes under Edibility and Comments.
Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 9. A spectacular fruiting of L. sulphureus.
Unfortunately, the specimens were old and faded.
Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 10. This specimen grew on an oak tree in New
Hampshire. The gentleman who found it was quite
concerned until his friend identified it as
chicken-of-the-woods. Photo © Melissa Emberger.


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This page © 2008 by Gary Emberger, Messiah University