Public Description of Laetiporus sulphureus (Bull.) Murrill

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Name: Laetiporus sulphureus (Bull.) Murrill
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 Public Description (Default) [Edit]
 Draft For 2008/2009 Eol University Species Pages Initiative By Kjetil Henderson (Private)
 Draft For Wild Mushrooms Of The Northeastern United States By Erlon Bailey (Private)
 Draft For Polypore Project By Chaelthomas (Private)

Description status: Approved
 (Latest review: 2010-04-11 06:30:04 MST (-0700) by nathan)

Taxonomic Classification:

Domain: Eukarya
Kingdom: Fungi
Phylum: Basidiomycota
Class: Agaricomycetes
Order: Polyporales
Family: Laetiporaceae

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.

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


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.


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

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.


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.


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

Kjetil Henderson
18 Nov 2008
UW-La Crosse Mycology

Description authors: Tom Volk, kjetil henderson (Request Authorship Credit)
Description editors: Nathan Wilson, Erlon Bailey