Turkey Tail

(Trametes versicolor)

Description

Trametes versicolor is a polypore fungus that grows on dead wood of all types. It is one of the most commonly identified mushrooms in PA, and it can be found in abundance all over the world. The top of the mushroom is fuzzy and looks, as the name would suggest, like a turkey’s tail, with concentric bands of browns, whites, oranges, and even blues or violets. The underside of the mushroom is white and contains many small pores (if the underside is flat without pores, it is likely Stereum ostrea). It can be found fruiting most mid summer into fall, but mushrooms tend to hang on all year round and fruiting can occur at other times.

Cultivation Tips

Plug spawn (dowels colonized by the fungal mycelium)  can be purchased and drilled into logs or mixed with fresh sawdust and wood chips to colonize the associated substrate. Small branches found to be fruiting with turkey tail can also be brought back into the garden and mixed into a pile of sticks and logs (like an unburied hugelkultur) to encourage colonization of the branches. Colonized media should be protected from excessive wind and kept out of direct sunlight to maintain proper moisture content. Large logs can be partially buried (bottom ~⅓) to help regulate moisture. This is also a very easily foraged mushroom.

A Turkey Tail spawn plug fruiting a tiny mushroom

Uses

Trametes versicolor has proven to be a highly medicinal fungus, with immunomodulatory activity that can help with ailments from common colds to recovering chemotherapy patients [35, 36]Trametes mycelium has also proven to be very effective at hyper-accumulating heavy metals [55], making it extremely useful for mycoremediation of contaminated soils or as a protective barrier between a garden and a road, parking lot, or other source of contaminants. The active compounds can be obtained via an alcohol tincture or hot water extraction. The mushrooms can also be made into a tasty Turkey Jerky!