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Picture of the Week for 30 August 1999

Sulphur Shelf - Fried Chicken Breast for Vegetarians!

Markus Scholler, Curator, Arthur & Kriebel Herbaria

This wonderful yellow to orange fungus is called sulphur shelf (Laetiporus sulphureus). It was fruiting on a cherry tree in the garden of Drs. Lembi and Ross where it was proudly displayed for visitors until recently. The fungus lives as a saprophyte on wood or as a weak parasite on old/diseased living deciduous or coniferous trees. Besides their color, fruiting bodies are characterized by their large, soft and stalkless brackets which are arranged in overlapping rosettes. Sulphur shelf belongs to the pore family forming small pores on the underside. Unlike other members of the family, fruiting bodies are annuals. Therefore they have to grow very fast to reach their typical size. As they grow older, the fruitbodies turn whitish and fragile.

In some European countries young parts of the fruiting bodies are eaten. They are brushed with salted, beaten eggs, rolled in dry bread crumbs and are fried. Prepared this way they look - and even taste - like fried chicken breast.

Editor's note: Extreme caution should be used when considering fungi for human consumption. Although the sulphur shelf is not technically a mushroom, please remember the old saying: "There are old mushroom eaters and there are bold mushroom eaters, but there are no old bold mushroom eaters."

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Last updated: 14 September 1999/tlm.