Daniel Greenwood

The language of leaves

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Fungi Friday 15th May 2020

I mentioned a fungi photo project which I was working on, watching the development of a fungus on my daily exercise ration. Both of those things have now been foraged and are consigned to the past. We can go out for a walk more than once a day, and my subject has been sliced and munched by someone who knows what they’re doing.

I was watching the slow mushrooming of a chicken of the woods fruiting body on a circular walk from my house but its progress was interrupted last week. Now the post looks wafer thin. Here’s how it played out on Twitter:

COTW_1

I first saw this mushroom developing on 25th April on a fallen oak tree next to a footpath, lodged between farmland and a wooded estate.

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Three days later I passed it again under twilight and the advancement was pretty clear.

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I also felt it looked quite a lot like Mark Twain, one of the great American writers. His characters sure ate plenty a chicken in the woods, sure did.

COTW_3

Chicken of the woods is a highly desirable edible fungus for people who desire that sort of thing. It’s one that’s easy to identify and is not known to have any serious side-effects. I have noted ecologists arguing that it should be left for the many species of invertebrate that find a home in it.

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The images above show a chicken of the woods fruiting body with some of the invertebrates hanging out on it. Believe me, there were so many more.

COTW_4

At this stage, on May Day, the chick was beginning to make its way in the world.

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Four days later, it was positively enjoying life. Then, this happened:

COTW_6

The moral of this story is: we all get foraged in the end.

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Here you can see the clean cuts of someone who knows what they’re doing. They’ve brought a knife with them on their walk and have made an attempt to not damage the mycelium which is attached to the dead wood itself, and not visible here.

Fungi - July 2018 djg-6

I’ve found some pretty epic chicks in the past, like this 1-2m long gathering on a fallen oak or sweet chestnut next to a river in West Sussex. It’s the biggest one I’ve ever seen. It does make me laugh how bites have been taken from the side, possibly the teeth of deer which are common in this area.

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This one is several months old and had begun the process of falling apart. This is in July and is probably a June fruiting body.

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This is the same day, and here Richard’s coat was not dissimilar to the fungus itself. He is a bit of a chicken in the woods at times, too.

Thanks for reading.

More mushrooms

 

 

 

 

2 Responses to “#FungiFriday: Chicken of the woods”

  1. Peter Mahoney

    Actually, I think it looks more like Goofy! Excellent record of its progress. I have monitored another example on an old (living) Myrobalan plum (Prunus cerasifera ‘Pissardii’) in Brenchley Gardens; it is quite reliable and has appeared every year since about 2012 (but not yet this year). Have you tried eating one? Does it taste of chicken?

    Reply
    • D. Greenwood

      Hi Peter, I love Brenchley Gardens! Some important heritage trees there from the old railway. No I’ve never eaten it. I believe it does, friends have said they’ve eaten too much and felt quite bloated. I know in Germany and the US it’s considered a delicacy. American mushroom foragers seem to be particularly keen on it.

      Daniel

      Reply

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