Permaculture Design looks to source trees and plants that can be found local to a property. Oftentimes edible plants grow on a property already, one just doesn’t know it.
Take for example “Chicken of the Wood” Mushroom (Laetiporus Sulphureus). Also know as “Sulphur Shelf” because of its color. Other monikers are Rooster Comb and Chicken Fungus in the USA, Polypore soufre (France), Schwefelporling (Germany) and of course other names in other parts of the world.
It grows all over. Much easier to find than the prized Morrell, Chicken of the Wood is great for beginner mushroom hunters because it has no close resemblance, toxic cousin to worry about, as is sometimes the case with mushrooms. It is really easy to see in the woods…its yellow and orange shelf structure does not really blend into the forest colors of summer. It might take a touch of bravery to harvest, cook and eat, as it looks like something scary…like a sea creature or alien life form from an old episode of Star Trek.
Rest assured, Chicken of the Wood is good for food, and it is, like many other plants, a medicine. More on that later. Chicken of the Wood can grow quite large and the largest on record was 100 pounds. Thats a lot of Chicken! It doesn’t really taste like Chicken, but it looks like and has texture like chicken, and when prepared like Chicken (we marinated and grilled it this evening…it was pretty much like grilled chicken).
We marinated the sliced mushroom in a way similar to how we do BBQ chicken, grilled it with onions and garlic over a medium heat on the Kamado cooker. It was delicious! It can be used like any other mushroom, like in soups, or sauces over pasta. Take it easy on the volume, some people get a little bit of tummy ache from the richness, and some people are actually allergic t0 mushrooms.
OK…like I said, its a medicine. Research has shown that Laetiporus Sulphureous has antimicrobial properties against the pathogen, Aspergillus flavus (Petrovic et al., 2013). It is also a great source of antioxidants, including quercetin, kaempferol, caffeic acid, and chlorogenic acid (Olennikov et al., 2011), and it contains lanostanoids – molecules that have the ability to inhibit cancerous growths (Rios et al., 2012). Last but certainly not least Laetiporus sulphureus has potent ability to inhibit the staph bacteria (Staphylococcus Aureus).
Food is medicine. We should eat in a way that brings health.
Chicken of the Wood comes back year after year until the mycelium web that hosts the mushroom decomposes the rotting log. The mushroom hangs on a bit longer until all the nutrients have been taken from the new soil that remains. You don’t hurt things by harvesting the “fruit” as long as you cut it to harvest and leave the mycelium base.
Take a walk in the woods this weekend and find your own! You’ll have a satisfaction that you are providing for yourself in a sustainable way