|This IS a chicken|
The yellow pored variety (Laetiporus sulphureus) causes brown heart rot in standing or fallen hardwoods, so it often grows above ground or along a fallen log. Its wild yellow and orange colors are easy to spot at a distance, and the fruiting is often enormous, giving us enough for dinner for a few nights, some extra to freeze, and sometimes enough to make sausages with. They are real show-stealers at public events, when we talk about how delicious and versatile they are as food.
|Gillian holding a white chicken, Laetiporus cincinnatus, this IS a chicken|
The white pored variety (Laetiporus cincinnatus) causes butt or root rot of hardwoods, often oaks, so is found at the base of the tree. or not far from the tree growing from the underground roots. White chickens are seemingly more tender than the yellow ones, but we don't seem to encounter them as often. Many people claim they taste better than the yellow pored chickens, but we are equally happy to find either.
Personally it drives me a little batty when I hear people refer to them as chicken "of the woods". We already have Hen of the Woods (AKA maitake or Grifola frondosa), and not everything we find in the wild is referred to as "of the woods". I don't hunt "chanterelles of the woods" or "porcini of the woods". Some people on Facebook groups are proposing we call the white chicken "Crab of the Woods" to differentiate it from the yellow pored variety, and I will not do it. Just because I do find it in the woods, it is not of the woods, and I have run into people at public events who have a misconception that anything titled "of the woods" means it is a choice edible.
|NOT A CHICKEN, Black Staining Polypore, Meripilus sumstenei|
Which brings us to the topic of this whole post, the black staining polypore, which some want to refer to as "Rooster of the Woods". Its correct name is Meripilus sumstenei and it closely resembles the European Meripilus giganteus; some older guidebooks use the European name mistakenly. Like its more-correct common name (which are just terrible to use due to regional misunderstandings and not official or scientific at all, but good when speaking to the public who can't handle the binomials) describes, it often stains black with handling and has many pores (polypore) on the undersides of the fronds. Older specimens won't blacken as much or as quickly as younger, fresher ones. They grow as overlapping fronds coming from wood, sometimes from buried roots that are not immediately visible. They can be very pretty to see, and are often surprisingly bug-free.
|NOT A CHICKEN, A big Meripilus sumstenei|
|Still NOT A CHICKEN, a baby Meripilus sumstenei looking deceptively orange|
|Gillian and a Berkeleys|