Turkey Tail Mushrooms: A Simple Identification Technique for Beginner Foragers

Turkey tail mushrooms: Then and now

Turkey tail is a common multipore mushroom that has become popular with nature lovers and foragers of all kinds. Its roots can be traced back to the folk remedies of East Asian and Native American cultures that consumed the mushroom for its purported health benefits.* Herbal practices in these cultures used turkey tail mushrooms specifically to help support higher respiratory, digestive and urinary systems.* Turkey tails are known for their immune system supporting properties.* Their use has become prevalent in our modern culture. where people continue to seek them out for their adaptogenic properties and digestive health support.* For this reason, turkey tail mushroom has been added to the Daily 10 Tincture. Unlike other types of popular mushrooms, turkey tails are not edible and are usually made into a decoction and consumed as a tea or tincture.

Simple ID:

The beautiful concentric rings of colors present in this mushroom reliably describe its scientific name: Trametes versicolor, i.e. of many colors, does not fail to catch the eyes of many viewers. Turkey Tail mushrooms are not only visually pleasing, but they are also easy to find! This mushroom grows year-round and is usually found on decaying hardwood logs throughout the forest. The only tricky part about Turkey Tail mushrooms can be identifying them correctly, as there are a surprising amount of lookalikes. Properly identifying mushrooms can be confusing and, like many other pursuits, takes time to become reliably good at. However, a simple identification checklist can help you rule out some of the more common false turkey tails. The following four steps are quick and easy to remember to help you on your mushroom hunting adventures!

1. First aBasically, turn the underside of the supposed turkey tail mushroom and look for the presence of small pores. Turkey Tail mushrooms should have pores on the underside, if the underside is smooth these mushrooms may actually be “false turkey tails” or Stereum ostrae, a kind of crust fungus.

2. Second, take a closer look. How big are the resources? Resources must be very small. They should be around 3-8 pores per millimeter to be classified as true Turkey Tail Mushrooms. For measuring a good trick would be to use a pen. Place the pen next to the pores with the tip up. Edge must cover at least 3+ resources. If it covers less than three spots, the mushroom may be another species Tramets. If so, you may have found yourself a Turkey Tail!

3. Third, touch the surface of the mushroom. It should feel slightly fuzzy, similar to the texture of velvet. True Turkey Tail mushrooms should also be thin and pliable, which can also tell you how fresh they are, as mushrooms age they become hard and stiff. If the mushroom you are looking at is hard or rigid, it may be another type such as Trametes ochracea.

4. Fourth, observe the caps of the mushroom. Are there different colored rings? If so, the colors should be strongly contrasting and distinct from each other to show a true turkey tail.

These steps are a great starting point for turkey tail mushroom identification. For a more in-depth foraging experience, identification books and field guides can be especially helpful. Some favorites are:

Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest by Joe Ammirati and Steve Trudeli

North American Mushrooms by Orson K. Miller Jr.

Mushroom foraging is a fun way to get more in touch with nature and the species that exist in our environment. This can be seen as an opportunity to connect our communities and disconnect from the destruction of social media. We can learn more than these mushrooms can teach us through a true approach. You can also read our guide on authentication lion’s mane and reishi mushrooms.

Written by: Maria Orozco

*Statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the FDA (US Food & Drug Administration). The products sold on this site are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The information provided by this website or by this company is not a substitute for a personal consultation with your doctor and should not be construed as individual medical advice.

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