A sweet, young couple shared this photo of a "chicken of the woods" wild edible (see note below) mushroom that they discovered while walking our property during their stay at our bed and breakfast Labor Day Weekend.
I was so excited to learn that it is growing in this second location. Dick and I first stumbled upon one on the opposite end of our acreage a year ago on July 14, 2010. I was saddened when I learned that Dick had unintentionally pushed the decayed log it had been growing on to the side of the wooded path with his big end loader. Happily, it reappeared this summer on that same log.
According to americanmushrooms.com, "The chicken (aka sulphur shelf) mushroom is especially common on large oak trees, logs, and stumps." If they are growing on oak trees, they are safe to eat. However, if they are "growing on any conifer tree (e.g., pine, hemlock, spruce, fir, larch/tamarack), eucalyptus, or locust trees, they should not be eaten." They can be found growing spring through fall. They are best to harvest when they are young before they begin to dry out. When you cut into them, a little liquid should come out. "Often, only the actively-growing edges of the caps are tender enough for the cooking pot… though slow, wet simmering can have a good tenderizing effect on the tougher, more fibrous parts."
Northland Arboretum in Brainerd, which covers 540 acres and encompasses a former 40-acre landfill that closed in 1972, offers a mushroom identification class in the spring and fall. I plan to be a student in this outdoor classroom.