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The sulphur shelf (Laetiporus sulphureus)

The sulphur shelf (Laetiporus sulphureus) mushroom is also known as chicken-of-the-woods or chicken mushroom. It’s a bright orange or yellow mushroom with a unique, meaty flavor.

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Growth

Sulphur shelf mushrooms grow on hardwood trees in North America and Europe. They are widely distributed east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States.
These mushrooms can either act as parasites on living or dying trees, or derive nutrients from dead trees, such as rotting tree stumps.
Sulphur shelf mushrooms grow on trees in shelf-like clusters. They are commonly found on large oak trees and typically harvested during the summer and fall months.
It should be noted that sulphur shelf look-alike Laetiporus species exist. They grow on conifer trees should be avoided, as they can cause severe allergic reactions in some people.

Identification

Sulphur shelf mushrooms are typically orange or yellow in color and grow in overlapping shelf-like clusters on hardwoods, such as oak, willow, and chestnut.
The caps of the mushroom are fan-like or semicircular in shape and typically 2–12 inches (5–30 cm) across and up to 8 inches (20 cm) deep. The sulphur shelf does not have gills, and the underside of the caps is covered with tiny pores.
This mushroom has a smooth, suede-like texture and yellow-orange color, which fades to a dull white when the mushroom is past maturity.
Many sulphur shelf mushrooms may grow on a single tree, with individual mushrooms growing heavier than 50 pounds (23 kg).

Nutrition

Like most mushrooms, sulphur shelf mushrooms are low in calories and offer a good amount of nutrients, including fiber, vitamin C, potassium, zinc, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Sulphur shelf mushrooms also contain plant compounds, including polysaccharides, eburicoic acid, and cinnamic acid. They have been shown to have antifungal, tumor-inhibiting, and antioxidant properties in test-tube and animal studies.
Sulphur shelf mushrooms should be eaten cooked ⁠— not raw. You can bring out their meaty texture and hearty flavor by sautéing them with butter, adding them to vegetable dishes, or mixing them into omelets.
SUMMARYThe brightly colored sulphur shelf mushroom grows on hardwood trees like oaks and has a meaty texture and pleasing flavor when cooked. Don’t confuse it with a look-alike species that grows on conifers.

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