Hen-of-the-Woods (Grifola frondosa)

Description: This mushroom really does look something like a large, ruffled chicken. It grows as a bouquet of grayish-brown, fan-shaped, overlapping caps, with off-center white talks branching from a single thick base. On the underside, the pore surface is white.
A single clump of hen-of-the-woods can grow to enormous size and weigh up to 100 pounds. It often grows in the same spot year after year.
When and Where: Summer and fall; on the ground at the base of trees, or on stumps.
Cautions: Many gilled mushrooms grow in large clumps-remember that hen-of-the-woods is a pore fungus.
This mushroom has no poisonous look-alikes, but there are some similar species of pore fungi that are tough and inedible. If what you have tastes leathery or otherwise unpleasant, you probably didn't pick a hen-of-the-woods.
Cooking Hints: Use only fresh, tender portions. Simmer in salted water until tender (requires long, slow cooking), and serve as a vegetable with cream sauce; or chill after cooking and use on salads.
There are many other good edible wild mushrooms available to Missouri mushroom hunters, including the popular meadow mushrooms. If you'd like to try collecting some of these, the references listed at the end of this article will help you do so safely.
Copyright 1983 by the Conservation Commission of the State of Missouri reprinted from the Missouri Conservationist

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