When I was walking around the cemetery this evening, I saw some spectacular shelf fungus growing on the side of a eucalyptus stump.

Sulphur Shelf (Laetiporus. gilbertsonii)

David Arora, in his comprehensive 1986 book Mushrooms Demystified, identifies this as Laetiporus sulphures, but the more recent book Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast (2016) by Noah Seigel and Christian Schwarz identify it as L. gilbertsonii — turns out L. sulphures was split into three species in 2001.

Close-up photo of the underside of L. gilbertsonii showing pores

Common names for L. gilbertsonii include Sulphur Shelf and Chicken of the Woods. As you’d guess with a name like “Chicken of the Woods,” you can eat it, and supposedly if it’s cooked correctly it does taste something like chicken. However, in a few individuals it can cause vomiting. (This apparently happens more often with the two western species, L. gilbertsonii and L. conifericola; not so much with the eastern species, L. sulphures.) I have a weak stomach, and I’m not an experienced mushroom hunter to begin with, so I didn’t try to eat it.

But it is beautiful, and finding it made my day.