Chicken of the Woods   


It would always be nice to come across a live chicken in a wilderness survival situation, but the next best thing is “chicken of the woods”.  Not a chicken at all, it’s a mushroom, several species of mushrooms really, from the genus Laetiporus.  They are commonly sought after edible mushrooms not only for their taste, but because they are not easily confused with poisonous mushrooms as some edible verities are.


  • Chicken of the woods mushrooms are brightly colored when they are young and at their most nutritious. They are so bright that they can be spotted against the otherwise neutral colors of the forest at a great distance.
  • When one does spot some chicken of the woods growing, it is usually worth deviated from the trail to inspect. Unlike some varieties of mushrooms that grow in small numbers or spread out, chicken of the woods have been found in brackets (that’s what they call a bunch of them) that weight as much as 100 pounds.
  • Because of the unique shape and coloration, it is unlikely that you will confuse a poisonous mushroom for a chicken of the woods, making them a safe mushroom to gather even for inexperienced mushroom hunters.
  • They contain protein which is not always easy to come by simply by bending down and picking it up when you are surviving in the wilderness.
  • They can be prepared the same as you would chicken.
  • Some people have had negative reactions when eating chicken of the woods, the chances of this can be minimized by gathering only the bright young mushrooms that are fleshy and not brittle, and by eating only a small amount if you are unsure how you will react. If you experience swollen lips or nausea, do not eat anymore since you may be allergic.

If you notice chicken of the woods while you are hiking, take note of where you saw it, it is likely to be there next year at the same time and may even be larger.

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