Monday, October 21, 2013

Chicken of the woods

Believe it or not, this sulfur shelf (Laetiporus sulphureus) is an edible bracket fungus that is touted for tasting like chicken! While it's native to both North America & Europe, this beautiful specimen was growing on a Carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua) that is actually native to the Mediterranean & a common element in Santa Monica residential areas.  The sulfur shelf is a saprophyte (detritivore) and causes internal rot on the trees it infects.  What's fascinating is that it's also possible for the sulfur shelf to absorb some of the toxic properties of its host tree; which sometimes can lead to gastrointestinal problems for folks that eat the fungus growing on trees like eucalyptus & some conifers.  Here's a great paper by Turkoglu et al. 2007.