“Plant” of the day: turkey tail fungus


In celebration of turkey day, here is a turkey tail fungus. I saw this beautiful little fan-shaped fungus on a dead tan oak tree, banded with a rainbow of oranges and whites. It really does look quite a lot like the spread fan of a turkey’s tail.

And we should definitely be thankful for this little decomposer, one of the many fungi that breaks down dead wood and keeps our forests clean. The turkey tail grows mainly on hardwoods such as oaks, but can sometimes be found on conifers as well. Its name–Trametes versicolor–comes from the fact that it comes in many different colors, from indigo to orange to black. But not all fan-shaped fungi are true turkey tails; click here for an easy identification key.

Turkey tails have been used medicinally for centuries; earlier this year, western medicine chimed in with a clinical study suggesting that compounds in this fungus help the immune system fight cancer. Click here for a huff post article by mycology giant Paul Stamets.

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