Chicken of the Woods

Chicken of the Woods ┬ęSteve Waterhouse

Chicken of the woods

Scientific name: Laetiporus sulphureus
Chicken of the woods is a sulphur-yellow bracket fungus of trees in woods, parks and gardens. It can often be found in tiered clusters on oak, but also likes beech, chestnut, cherry and even yew.

Species information

Statistics

Cap diameter: 10-40cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

June to November

About

The chicken of the woods is an easy-to-spot bracket fungus due to its distinctive sulphur-yellow colour; in fact, it is also called the 'Sulphur polypore'. It grows high up on the trunks of standing deciduous trees, such as oak. Fungi belong to their own kingdom and get their nutrients and energy from organic matter, rather than photosynthesis like plants. It is often just the fruiting bodies, or 'mushrooms', that are visible to us, arising from an unseen network of tiny filaments called 'hyphae'. These fruiting bodies produce spores for reproduction, although fungi can also reproduce asexually by fragmentation.

How to identify

The chicken of the woods is a bright sulphur-yellow fungus comprising several thick, overlapping brackets. The individual brackets are soft and spongy when young and exude a yellow liquid if squeezed. They are fan-shaped with an undulating margin. The upper surface is velvety and yellow-orange with a zoned margin, while the underside is yellow and covered with pores.

Distribution

Widespread.

Did you know?

The chicken of the woods gets its name from the texture of its flesh, which is said to resemble cooked chicken.

How people can help

Fungi play an important role within our ecosystems, helping to recycle nutrients from dead or decaying organic matter, and providing food and shelter for different animals. The Wildlife Trusts manage many nature reserves sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife, including fungi: you can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member. Our gardens are also a vital resource for wildlife, providing corridors of green space between open countryside. Try leaving log piles and dead wood to help fungi and the wildlife that depends on it. To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS.