Chicken of the Woods

Chicken of the Woods

This mushroom is a fungi feast.


In Jekyll Island’s maritime forests, a bright-orange fungus lies stacked at the bottom of live oaks. Known colloquially as Chicken of the Woods, this mushroom (Laetiporus sulphureus) is more than just a pop of color in the shade. It’s a culinary gem.

Scientifically, L. sulphureus, like all mushrooms, has an amino acid composition that’s usually found only in animal proteins. That makes mushrooms neither plant nor animal, according to Jekyll Island Authority wildlife biologist Joseph Colbert. “They’re an entire animal kingdom of their own and deserve more attention,” he says. Chicken of the Woods is one of the more easily identifiable mushrooms on Jekyll, but it’s protected from foraging on the island, a state park.

You know when someone says something “tastes like chicken”? This does, though some say it’s closer to meat, crab, lobster, or even lemon. L. sulphureus can be found on the menus of local restaurants, where the delicacies are harvested off-island.

This article first appeared in Volume 7 Number 1 of 31•81, the Magazine of Jekyll Island.

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