Chicken of the woods stands out in size as well as color. Some specimens might grow six or seven inches across, but many reach several feet. This is no small fry fungi — the largest recorded specimen weighed 100 pounds.
Touching your chicken is the best way to get familiar with it. When young, fresh, and ready to be picked, these mushrooms have a spongy texture. They should feel soft and may have a velvety sheen on the caps.
Like reishi mushrooms, Laetiporus species can be a decomposing saprobe or a parasitic fungus that feeds off living trees. This cool but confusing feature enables the fungus to occupy a wide range of habitats.