Laetiporus gilbertsonii Burds. 2001
Sulphur shelf, chicken of the woods, chicken mushroom, chicken fungus
Laetiporus, meaning "bright spores," is native to North America and Europe. Until DNA tests recently proved this to be a distinct species, Laetiporus gilbertsonii was thought to be Laetiporus sulphureus. But this mushroom is found on the west coast, while L. sulphureus is found in the east. (Don't confuse the common names "chicken of the woods" for this species with "hen of the woods" for the completely unrelated and different-appearing Grifola frondosa).
Identification: Sulphur shelf is so brightly colored that it is hard to miss, and hard to confuse with other species. It is a bracket fungus, meaning that it grows from the sides of trees. It inhabits eucalyptus and oak trees logs and stumps, and is composed of many horizontal layers called shelves, each 2½-22" (7-55 cm) wide. It is yellow to orange, and lacks gills. It makes a white spore print.
Edibility: These are generally considered choice mushrooms by mushroom hunters, with a delicious chicken-like flavor. But some people don't respond well to them. If you try them, eat only the young edges (they taste better anyway), cook them thoroughly, and eat them in small quantities. Some sources indicate that mushrooms harvested from eucalyptus trees are more likely to cause gastric distress. A closely similar species, Laetiporus conifericola, which grows on conifers, is sour-tasting and indigestible, causing nausea, dizziness, and possibly hallucinations.
Laetiporus gilbertsonii description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.