Laetiporus huroniensis – Conifer Chicken of the Woods

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Laetiporus huroniensis is a species of Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus spp.) that has pale yellow pores and grows on conifers. It can be found Spring-Fall, but fruits most prolifically from August-September.
There are three species of Chicken of the woods (COW) that grow in New England. Pictured is Laetiporus huroniensis, which is a newly identified Laetiporus species that grows on conifers. 
Laetiporus sulphureus is the most common COW mushroom. Laetiporus sulphureus grows on dead and dying hardwood trees, most often oak. It has bright orange caps and yellow pores.
Laetiporus cincinnatus, or the White Pored Chicken, grows on underground wood or roots. It often grows as a rosette at the base of trees. Laetiporus cincinnatus has white pores.
COW is a fast-growing mushroom. It can only be harvested for 2-3 days after fruiting and then it is past its prime. When COW is at its peak for harvesting it will have thick edges, bright colors, and a soft texture. As the mushroom ages, it becomes woody, and the colors tend to fade. The edges of the mushroom will stay tender the longest. People are more likely to get sick from eating COW that is past its prime.
COW has a texture and flavor similar to chicken, with a slightly lemony flavor. It can be fried, baked, or sautéed. COW must be cooked thoroughly as undercooked COW may cause GI upset.
COW is nutritionally dense with high levels of protein and antioxidants. COW also has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
Some people have had bad reactions from eating COW, including stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and lip or tongue swelling. If you have never eaten COW before, it is best to start with a small portion and see how your body reacts.

Written by Amy Demers, founder of the Connecticut Foraging Club. To learn more about foraging in Connecticut, check out our upcoming classes.

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