"Hen of the Woods", Grifolas, Maitake Question

actionclawNovember 7, 2012

Today, walking the dog I stumbled upon what I believe to be a "Hen of the Woods" mushroom.

I left it where it was, returned home intending to investigate, confirm and then (if appropriate) go back to retrieve it but I got sidetracked, forgot and it's now dark. I currently don't have details (used by keyed guide) regarding pores or gills, etc. nor do I have a photograph at this time. I plan to return tomorrow and post photos. In the meantime, my questions are:

- In the way that puffballs could be confused with immature Amanita mushrooms, are there any similar but unsafe mushrooms with which "Hen of the Woods" could be mistaken? It seems most others (polypore species) I know of that even remotely resemble them are also edible.

- Is "Hen of the Woods" ever, even when at its prime, solid colored? Is it not always varied colored? (I believe some folks might be confusing "Hen of the Woods" with "Chicken of the Woods".)

- With those with which I'm most familiar (morels, puffball), there's a "window of opportunity" for gathering but I understand that some folks that find "Hens of the Woods" leave them to grow larger, coming back a week or whatever later. How large do they get and how does one tell when it's grown all it will?

- After that point, for how long are they good? Other than obvious blackening, rot, worm/bug eaten, etc how can one tell if it's too late? If past ideal harvesting time, is it merely a matter of a slightly different or stronger flavour (as with grocery store varieties) or can they become inedible or unsafe?

(Maybe I'll go back tonight for some flash photos because I'm looking forward to including them in tomorrow's breakfast!)

Thanks for any help!

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I'm fairly confident about these (seems almost textbook; right at the base of an oak in November) but with wild mushrooms you can't be too careful, right?

I'm not kicking it; just put my (size 9.5/10) foot in there to show scale. If the photo composition isn't the best, please keep in mind it was shot in total darkness!

It may be asking too much but I'm hoping for confirmation before breakfast.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 1:53AM
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Also pinched off one of the "shelves", caps or whatever to photograph at home.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 2:12AM
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Went back and got it this morning. Here's another photo:

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 12:29PM
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chervil2(z5 MA)

Did you enjoy your breakfast? These mushrooms tend to appear every year around the same date. Next year try to harvest a week earlier since this specimen looks a little too mature.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 7:56PM
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