This page will cover some of the basics for Laetiporus, the four species that are known to occur in Alabama that are often called the Chicken of the Woods. These four species of Laetiporus (Lay-tee-por-us) (Latin for "with bright pores") that can be found in Alabama, L.'s cincinnatus, sulphurius, gilbertsonii var. pallidus, and persicinus. This genus is in the family Fomitopsidaceae with many other wood-growing pored saprobes. All four of these species are edible, and live up to their name-sake with a similar texture to chicken. There is rumor that genetic studies will remove L. persicinus from the genus.
Laetiporus cincinnatus is identified by its yellow-orange pileus (top of the 'cap') and white hymenium (that's the spore bearing surface, in this case small pores). The pores will be small and fairly tightly packed. This species produces a butt-rot and will often be found fruiting on buried roots at the base of trees.
Photos by Anthoni Goodman and Tim Pfitzer
Laetiporus sulphurius (as in sulfer, a vivid yellow crystaline element) has bright yellow pores (also small and tightly packed). This species produces a heart-rot and is often found a bit higher off the ground, sometimes far above your head (so look up sometimes!).
Photos by Chase Allen and Morty Morris
L. gilbertsonii var. pallidus
This variation of L. gilbertsonii (which is a West-coast mushtoom) is found near the Gulf of Mexico. In our experience the colors are more muted and the pore-surface more easily described as orange, than the white of L. cincinnatus or the yellow of L. sulphurius.
It is just as edible as the others and most commonly found on Live Oak (Quercus virginiana).
Photos by Tracy Brown Davion and Spencer Lowery
Perhaps not the conventional 'chicken of the woods', these brown polypores with a white/tan/ochre margin are likely to be removed from the Laetiporus genus. These are often confused for other fungus such as Phaeolus schweinitzii, Inonotus spp, or Meripilus sumstinei which have similar fruiting habitats and may share some coloration. These will distinctly bruise brown on the lower, white pore surface upon handling.
Photos by Sandra-Squirrel Lear and Alicia Hafner
Look A Likes