A chicken of the woods look-alike could be devastating for someone trying to find a real chicken of the woods mushroom. However, the mistake is common, particularly because this type of mushroom is only found in the wild.
What is the chicken of the woods?
This type of mushroom is a variety of fungus that grows on trees and feeds off them, but also kills the tree by stealing the nutrients, and then continues to feed on the rotting trunk.
The three more common species of chicken of the woods are Laetiporus sulphureus, Laetiporus Cincinnatus, and Laetiporus Conifericola. These three are all edible wild species that look similar, but grow on different trees. The chicken of the woods is an easy-to-spot mushroom that you can see from afar.
Chicken of the woods is a mushroom that grows in many regions across the world, and it is usually found on the trunks of the trees.
These are the 9 tips to identify a chicken of the woods look-alike:
Tip #1: If it’s not a bracket fungus, it’s not a chicken of the woods
The chicken of the woods fungus is part of what people call a bracket mushroom. You will likely see a fan and semi-circular shape with a wavy cap. If the mushroom you find doesn’t have this outward appearance, then you should be wary of it, as it may not be a real chicken of the woods.
Tip #2: The color is also a key indicator
A young chicken of the woods is usually either bright yellow or bright orange. As the mushroom grows older, it will become more red and brown, and it will lose a bit of its shininess.
Tip #3: Chicken of the woods has no gills
This mushroom does not have any gills, and if it does, you are probably looking at the other mushroom called Jack-O-Lantern, which happens to be poisonous. Instead, the chicken of the woods has thousands of microscopic pores.
Tip #4: You will only find this mushroom on hardwood
Chicken of the woods survive off trees, so they only grow at the base of the dead or dying trees, which they help decompose. If you happen to find a mushroom in an open field, it is certainly not a chicken of the woods mushroom.
Also as a general rule, chicken of the woods grows in the same area, so you can count on coming back for more at a later time.
Tip #5: You can find chicken of the woods for about 6 months of the year
This mushroom is very popular in North America, Europe, and in some areas of Asia. You can go harvesting for the chicken of the woods starting in spring and until the end of fall. When you see a mushroom outside of this time frame, it may not be a real chicken of the woods.
Tip #6: The chanterelle mushroom is a common look-alike
While it doesn’t truly look like a chicken of the woods, the chanterelle mushroom is also orange and shiny. You may mistake one for the other, and it really would not be a problem, as either is edible.
You can tell these two mushrooms apart because the chicken of the woods has ridges on the underside that look like gills, but the chicken of the woods has pores underneath.
The chanterelle also grows near trees but on the ground. The chicken of the woods, however, is always directly on the trunk of the tree.
Tip #7: The Jack-O-Lantern is an absolute no-no
The biggest look-alike for the chicken of the woods is the Jack-O-Lantern, which happens to be very similar and orange, but also has gills. If you are not sure about the fungus you found, check the underside.
The Jack-O-Lantern mushroom grows in clusters and glows in the dark. Unfortunately, it also survives off trees, so it will likely be on hardwood trees or dead trunks.
Tip #8: The velvet-top fungus grows in similar places
Even though this mushroom has a brown color on top and velvety texture as well, some people find the velvet-top fungus to be similar to the chicken of the woods. The latter, as you know, has an orange or yellow color.
The velvet top fungus is not poisonous, but it is not edible either, as it has a very rough texture.
Tip #9: Do not confuse the chicken of the woods with the hen of the woods
Despite having a similar name, the chicken of the woods is not the same as the hen of the woods, also known as maitake. While they look very different, some beginner hunters and mushroom enthusiasts get confused with the name.
Time to go harvesting for your chicken of the woods!
No more hunting for a chicken of the woods look-alike, as now you know all the important tips to avoid these and find the right mushroom! Time to use your skills and enjoy this tasty mushroom.
Now that you’ve read about these tips, Why not check out the 6 Interesting Facts About Chicken of the Woods Mushroom?