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Overview

Comprehensive Description

General Description

Grows individually or in clumps on wood. Clumps in fan-like shapes, growing up to 60cm. Smooth to slightly wavy edges. Bright orange or yellow when young, fading with age. Not gilled, but a polypore with yellowish-white spores on its underside. Spore size: 5-7×3.5-5um. Flesh is thick and moist when young, becoming drier with age.

 

Commonly called the sulphur shelf, chicken of the woods, chicken fungus, or chicken mushroom.

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Distribution

Common in North America east of the Rocky Mountains. It is also distributed in northern Europe. Usually found in late summer and fall.

 

More work is being done on the Laetiporus species from other continents. Laetiporus sulphureus at least is known from Europe.

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Physical Description

Diagnostic Description

Laetiporus sulphureus has yellow pores and grows from the “butt” of hardwoods, at the base of the tree or farther away. L. gilbertsonii is found in the coastal western US on Eucalyptus and on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. It is indistinguishable from L. sulphureus, but they don’t mate in culture. L. conifericola grows in the western US on living and dead conifers. L. huronensis grows in the great lakes region on eastern hemlock in the spring. L. cincinnatus has white pores and grows primarily from soil, parasitic on the roots of trees.

 

See Tom Volk’s page on Laetiporus

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Look Alikes

L. sulphureus isn’t difficult to identify with a little effort, and there are no other species known resembling L. sulphureus that can hurt you.

 

Other Laetiporus species can be distinguished as above.

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Ecology

Habitat

Parasitic and saprobic, growing on decaying hardwoods and conifers. It especially likes oaks, but can parasitize living trees in the right conditions.

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Associations

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Fungus / internal feeder
larva of Cis bilamellatus feeds within fruitbody of Laetiporus sulphureus

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Laetiporus sulphureus is saprobic on trunk of old tree of Quercus
Remarks: season: early summer to autumn
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Laetiporus sulphureus is saprobic on trunk of old tree of Broadleaved trees

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Laetiporus sulphureus is saprobic on trunk of old tree of Pinopsida
Other: unusual host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Laetiporus sulphureus is saprobic on trunk of old tree of Larix
Other: unusual host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Laetiporus sulphureus is saprobic on trunk of old tree of Pinus
Other: unusual host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Laetiporus sulphureus is saprobic on trunk of old tree of Pseudotsuga menziesii
Other: unusual host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Laetiporus sulphureus is saprobic on trunk of old tree of Taxus baccata
Other: minor host/prey

Foodplant / parasite
fruitbody of Laetiporus sulphureus parasitises trunk of old tree of Prunus avium cv
Remarks: season: early summer to autumn
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / parasite
fruitbody of Laetiporus sulphureus parasitises trunk of old tree of Malus domestica
Remarks: season: early summer to autumn

Foodplant / parasite
fruitbody of Laetiporus sulphureus parasitises trunk of old tree of Fagus sylvatica
Remarks: season: early summer to autumn
Other: minor host/prey

Foodplant / parasite
fruitbody of Laetiporus sulphureus parasitises trunk of old tree of Castanea sativa
Other: minor host/prey

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Uses

Tastes like chicken! Chicken of the woods (Sulfur shelf) is pursued for its edibility. It can be prepared most ways you would make chicken. Vegetarians use it as a meat substitute. It needs to be cooked well before eating, just like real chicken, or stomach upset may follow.

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Wikipedia

Laetiporus sulphureus

Laetiporus sulphureus
View the Mycomorphbox template that generates the following list
Mycological characteristics
pores on hymenium
cap is flat
hymenium attachment is irregular or not applicable
lacks a stipe
spore print is white

ecology is saprotrophic

or parasitic
edibility: edible

Laetiporus sulphureus is a species of bracket fungus (fungus that grows on trees) found in Europe and North America. Its common names are crab of the woods, sulphur polypore, sulphur shelf, and chicken of the woods. Its fruit bodies grow as striking golden-yellow shelf-like structures on tree trunks and branches. Like other bracket fungi, they may last many years and fade to pale grey or brown. The undersurface of the fruit body is made up of tubelike pores rather than gills.

Laetiporus sulphureus is a saprophyte and causes brown cubical rot in the heartwood of trees on which it grows. Unlike many bracket fungi, it is edible when young.

Taxonomy and phylogenetics[edit]

Laetiporus sulphureus was first described as Boletus sulphureus by French mycologist Pierre Bulliard in 1789. It has had many synonyms and was finally given its current name in 1920 by American mycologist William Murrill. Laetiporus means with bright pores and sulphureus means the colour of sulphur.[1]

Phylogenetic analyses of ITS, nuclear large subunit and mitochondrial small subunit rDNA sequences from a variety of North American species have delineated five distinct clades within the core Laetiporus clade:[2]

Investigations in North America have shown that there are several similar species within what has been considered L. sulphureus, and that the true L. sulphureus may be restricted to regions east of the Rocky Mountains.[3]

The cap is small and knob-shaped, overlapping in an irregular pattern. Wide, shaped like a fan and attached direct to the trunk of a tree, it has a shelf-like appearance and is sulphur-yellow to bright orange in colour and has a suedelike texture. When it is old the cap fades to tan or white. The shelves often grow in overlapping clumps, and each one may be anywhere from 5 to 60 cm (2 to 24 in) in diameter and 4 cm (1.4 in) thick.[3] The fertile surface is sulphur-yellow with small pores or tubes and has a white spore print.[4]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus) in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York on October 5, 2012.

Laetiporus sulphureus is widely distributed across Europe and North America though may be restricted to east of the Rockies.

The mushroom grows on dead or mature hardwoods such as oak, cherry and beech from August to October or later, sometime as early as June. The species can also be found under conifers. It can usually be found growing in clusters.[5]

Parasitism[edit]

The mushroom causes brown cubical rot on the heartwood in the roots, base and stem. At first the wood is discoloured yellowish to red. Later on it becomes reddish-brown and brittle. At the last stage the wood can be rubbed like powder between the fingers.[6]

Guinness world record[edit]

A specimen weighing 100 pounds (over 45 kg) was found in the New Forest, Hampshire, United Kingdom, on 15 October 1990.[7]

Edibility[edit]

Laetiporus sulphureus prepared dish

Because of the taste, the mushroom has been called chicken polypore and chicken-of-the-woods. Many people think that the mushroom tastes like crab or lobster. The authors of Mushrooms in Color said that the mushroom tastes good sauteed in butter or prepared in a cream sauce served on toast or rice.[8] It is highly regarded in Germany and North America.[9] The mushroom is a good substitute for chicken.

Young specimens are edible if a large clear watery liquid comes out of it.[5] The mushroom should not be eaten raw.[1] Deer like to eat the mushroom.[10]

Allergic effects[edit]

Some people have had gastrointestinal upset after eating this mushroom.,[8] and it should not be consumed raw.

Studies have shown severe adverse reactions, including vomiting and fever, in about 10% of the population, but this is now thought to be a result of confusion with morphologically identical species such as Laetiporus huroniensis which grows on hemlock trees, and L. gilbertsonii which grows on Eucalyptus.[11]

Medicinal[edit]

The mushroom produces the Laetiporus sulphureus lectin (LSL) which has haemolytic and haemagglutination activities. Haemolytic lectins are sugar-binding proteins that lyse and agglutinate cells. The haemagglutination and haemolytic activity are started by binding carbohydrates.[12]

Cultivation[edit]

Compared with species such as Agaricus bisporus (button mushroom) and oyster mushroom, commercial cultivation of Laetiporus is limited. However it can be cultivated; the most dependable and rapid production of this mushroom is cultivation of it indoors. The mushroom does not require the heat and water that gilled mushrooms do. The mushroom is sensitive to carbon dioxide levels and light conditions.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Smith, Alexander H.; Smith Weber, Nancy (1980). The Mushroom Hunter's Field Guide. University of Michigan Press. p. 64. ISBN 978-0-472-85610-7. 
  2. ^ Lindner DL, Banik MT. (2008). "Molecular phylogeny of Laetiporus and other brown rot polypore genera in North America". Mycologia 100 (3): 417–30. doi:10.3852/07-124R2. PMID 18751549. 
  3. ^ a b Kuo, Michael (March 2005). "Laetiporus sulphureus: The Chicken of the Woods". Mushroomexpert.com. Retrieved 23 February 2010. 
  4. ^ "Laetiporus sulphureus". New Jersey Mycological Association. Retrieved 2010-02-22. 
  5. ^ a b Spahr, David L. (2009). Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms of New England and Eastern Canada. North Atlantic Books. p. 124. ISBN 978-1-55643-795-3. 
  6. ^ Schwarze FWMR, Engels J, Mattheck C. (2000). Fungal strategies of wood decay in trees. Springer. p. 73. ISBN 978-3-540-67205-0. 
  7. ^ Glenday, Craig (2009). Guinness World Records 2009. Random House. ISBN 978-0-553-59256-6. [page needed]
  8. ^ a b K. Miller, Jr., Orson; H. Miller, Hope. Mushrooms in Color. South China Printing Co. ISBN 0-525-93136-8.  [page needed]
  9. ^ Phillips, Roger (2010). "Laetiporus sulphureus". Roger's Mushrooms. Retrieved 23 February 2010. 
  10. ^ Rost, Amy (2007). Survival Wisdom & Know How: Everything You Need to Know to Thrive in the Wilderness. Black Dog Publishing. p. 149. ISBN 978-1-57912-753-4. 
  11. ^ http://botit.botany.wisc.edu/toms_fungi/jul2001.html[full citation needed]
  12. ^ Mancheño JM, Tateno H, Goldstein IJ, Martínez-Ripoll M, Hermoso JA (April 2005). "Structural analysis of the Laetiporus sulphureus hemolytic pore-forming lectin in complex with sugars". The Journal of Biological Chemistry 280 (17): 17251–9. doi:10.1074/jbc.M413933200. PMID 15687495. 
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