Hen of the Woods

(Grifola frondosa)

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

Hen of the Woods


not listed


not listed


Widely distributed and common in eastern North America


Summer and fall

Photo by Cannon Valley Foraging

Deciduous woodlands, especially woodland edges, on hardwoods, especially oak.



This easily recognized stalked polypore is common in eastern North America. The numerous, overlapping, smoky-brown caps are reminiscent of a fluffed-up chicken, giving this mushroom its common name. It is found in deciduous woodlands, especially woodland edges. It usually occurs at the base of a dead or dying tree or stump, especially oak. Sometimes it is found apparently on the ground but growing on submerged, rotting roots. It is both saprobic, on dead and rotting wood, and parasitic, on a living tree. It causes butt rot in the heartwood and sapwood of its host. When on a living tree it exploits a wound already created by another organism, rarely being the primary source of infection.

It appears in summer and fall as a large cluster of rosettes of numerous small, overlapping, fan-shaped caps rising from a single base. The base is fleshy but tough and repeatedly branched, with each branch ending in a cap. The clusters are usually 6 to 16 in diameter and weigh 5 to 10 pounds, though they can get up to 40 in diameter and weigh more than 100 pounds.

Each cap is ¾ to 4 in diameter, flattened, and spoon-, tongue-, or fan-shaped. It is usually attached to the stem branch laterally, at the side, sometimes off center but near the side. The upper surface is dark grayish-brown at first, becoming paler and lighter gray with age. It may be smooth, rough, or velvety-hairy. The margins are often wavy. The flesh is firm and white.

The underside (pore surface) is white or yellowish. The spore print is white.

Tender young caps are edible after long, slow cooking. The taste is mild.


Grifola umbellata caps are larger and lighter in color. They are attached near the center, not at or near the side. It is much less common.

Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 4, 7, 24, 26, 29, 77.





Basidiomycota (club fungi)

  No Rank:

Agaricomycotina (jelly fungi, yeasts, and mushrooms)



Agaricomycetes (mushroom-forming fungi)


No Rank:

Agaricomycetes incertae sedis








Agaricus frondosus

Boletus frondosus

Polyporus frondosus


Dancing Butterfly Mushroom

Hen of the Woods


Sheep’s Head









Obtaining nutrients from another living organism.



Obtaining nutrients from non-living organic matter, such as decaying plant or animal matter.


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Cannon Valley Foraging

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Visitor Videos

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Other Videos

  Hen Of The Woods (Maitake, Sheep's Head) Mushroom Identification & Health Benefits with Adam Haritan
Learn Your Land

Published on Oct 6, 2015

Maitake (Grifola frondosa, hen of the woods, sheep's head) is a choice edible and medicinal mushroom that can be found during the autumn months. In this video, Adam Haritan discusses identification, look-alikes, medicinal benefits, and more!

www.learnyourland.com is an online community and database of naturalists, foraging events, wildflower hikes, mushroom forays, bird walks, and more.

Check it out!

  Mushroom Hunting Maitake Grifola Frondosa Hen of the woods

Published on Jan 2, 2013

These maitakes were harvested in october of 2012, last year was the biggest amount of these mushrooms that I harvested with the amount over 25 lbs. I have froze them after cleaning them along with dehydrating them and put them back for food storage. So next october get out there and find some of these nice blooms.

Mushroom hunting is a big part of our activities that we do and is a big part of wilderness survival. I have put together a collection of photos and video to share with you from all of our findings and havesting. This video is just one part of a series that I'm going to do of all the mushrooms that I have collected through out the last few years. Enjoy this collection and look for part 2 "Morels" coming soon!

Mushrooms are very good for you. i dont listen to mushroomhead. This is about mushroom hunting. I have made mushroom soup before. The smurfs have a mushroom house. Dryads are fictional creatures. What are dryads bells. I like dryads and trolls. i do like wild mushrooms hunting. I do go wild mushroom picking. I do like wild mushroom soup. I have made wild mushroom sauce. We do some mushroom hunting while we are out camping hiking and fishing.

  Hen of the Woods Mushrooms
330 MaNiaC

Published on Nov 16, 2014

A video of me hunting Hen of the woods mushrooms in central minnesota and I stumble across 3 prime ones at the base of a dead oak tree. Followed by some pictures of a few other ones I found this year with different color variations.

  Maitake - Sheepshead - Hen of the Woods - Cooking Mushroom

Published on Oct 18, 2013

Maitake, Sheeps Head, Hen of the Woods, Rams Head Mushroom. John Royer finds a couple nice Maitake by some white oaks and talks about this delicious mushroom. Later John shows how to pick, clean and prepare, cook and eat this mushroom. Grifola Frondosa

  Hen of the woods wild mushroom harvest
Greg Seitz

Published on Oct 18, 2015

Here's a clip of us harvesting a Hen of The Woods wild mushroom in s.e. PA on October 17, 2015. This mushroom is one of the easiest ID , but don't eat any wild mushroom unless you are 100% sure of what you find.





Visitor Sightings

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Scott Johnson

Location: Forest Lake MN

At the base of an Oak tree


Location: Twin cities

Hen of the Woods

Cannon Valley Foraging

Location: Afton, MN

Hen of the Woods


MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings





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