Hen of the Woods

August 17 – Another mushroom we found this year really grabbed our attention. As we were walking the trails about sundown, just coming out of the woods and into some open area, I looked down and spotted a huge mushroom. Right off the bat, Dale, excited by the find, reminded me that we had seen the remains of one of those Hen of the Woods last year. Something had smashed it up and left bits and pieces scattered around.

160815_HenWoods 2This one was in perfect shape, and since I had my camera with me, I took some photos. No good. Too dark, and the flash gave the mushroom a strange color. OK, tomorrow would come soon enough, and I planned to walk to that area to get a good shot. I was pleased with the photos, but I took too many of them! After all, we have seen only one of those Hens anywhere else in our woods! Dale said that since the mushroom was in the same place this year, as last, we will probably find more there in years to come.

We have read that Hens really like oak trees and grow around them. Well, our woods are full of oak trees, but “our hen” wasn’t near one. One writer said that if you find one, it would be enough to feed a small army! We are not part of that army, however. Last year I fried up some for Dale, but I couldn’t bring myself to eat any of it. He said it was OK, but didn’t ask me to do up any more.

160815_HenWoods 1People say that the reason for the name Hen of the Woods is obvious, as it really does look like a big chicken with its feathers ruffled. Dale agrees with that description, but my imagination isn’t that great. It is shaped something like a fan with each cap branching out from the one below.

After I had taken our Hen out of the woods and into an open area, I handed the big mushroom to Dale. “How much do you think it weighs? I asked. “Probably about ten or twelve pounds,” he answered. Seeing the surprised look on my face, he added, “And that’s absolutely nothing in comparison with the really big ones. They have found that a single clump can become huge and weigh up to 100 pounds!” As I was writing this blog I thought to myself: How in the world could anything like a mushroom weigh that much!

There are so many different kinds of plants and animals and birds, all interesting in their own way. Lots of fun finding something we haven’t seen before or something that comes back every year just for us to enjoy! – CHRIS

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