Hen-of-the-Woods Mushroom

Hen-of-the-Woods, a distinctive pore-bearing mushroom

If I’d been sure of my tentative ID, I’d have taken home a cluster for closer examination and possible freezing for future meals. Frankly, I’d only seen Hen-of-the-woods in pictures, especially lately when comparing it to Chick-of-the-woods, the yellow shelf fungus we purchased at the Community Market a few weeks back.

It doesn’t look anything like it’s poultry-relative mushroom but its flat fans of spore-bearing fruiting body do look like hen’s tails. This specimen was one of several around the base of a dead maple.

Here again, there are pharmaceutical compounds from this mushroom being investigated for treatment of a number of human illnesses.

And here again, caveat emptor.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. in Italy and France one can take funghi to the chemist who is qualified to identify the edible varieties and, probably, dispense antidotes for those unwise enough to ignore their advice.

    But then funghi foraging is a national pastime in such places

  2. Spent the past 4 weeks with a Russian Phd biologist, identifying and consuming mushrooms.

    Unlike the Pacific N/W and Eastern Europe, collecting wild mushrooms generates fear by the locals.

    We picked and consumed many ,and I am still alive.

    If you are TRULY interested in the edible wild mushrooms of this part of Virginia, drop me a line.

    I offered a lecture to the Jacksonville Center, but they never replied.

  3. I am from Franklin county Virginia and am very interested in foraging for edible mushrooms in this area….help please.