Turkey Tail Mushrooms: A Simple Identification Technique for Beginning Foragers


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Turkey Tail Mushrooms: A Simple Identification Technique for Beginning Foragers

Turkey Tail Mushrooms: A Simple Identification Technique for Beginning Foragers

Turkey Tail Mushrooms: Then & Now 


Turkey Tail is a common polypore mushroom that has become popular among nature lovers and foragers of all kinds. It’s roots trace back to the folk remedies of Eastern Asiatic and Native American cultures who consumed the mushroom for its purported health benefits.* Herbal practices within these civilizations used Turkey Tail Mushrooms specifically to help support the upper respiratory, digestive, and urinary tracts.* Turkey tails have been known for their immune-system supporting properties.* Their use has prevailed into our modern culture; where humans continue to seek them out due to their adaptogenic qualities and digestive health support.* For this reason, Turkey Tail mushroom has been added to our Daily 10 Tincture. Unlike other kinds of popular mushrooms, Turkey Tails are not edible and are typically 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, meaning of several colors, doesn’t fail to draw the eyes of many spectators. Not only are Turkey Tail mushrooms visually pleasing, but they are also easy to find! This mushroom grows year round and is typically found on decomposable hardwood logs throughout the woods. The only hard part about Turkey Tail mushrooms may be properly identifying them as there are a surprising amount of look-alikes. Proper mushroom identification can be confusing and like many other pastimes takes time to get reliably good at. However, a simple identification checklist can help you rule out some of the most common faux Turkey Tails. The following four steps are quick and easy to memorize as an aid during your mushroom hunting adventures!


1. First and foremost, flip the underside of your presumed 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 type of crust fungus.

2. Second, take a closer look. How big are the pores? The pores should be very small; they should be approximately 3-8 pores per millimeter to be classified as true Turkey Tail mushrooms. For measurement a good trick would be to use a ballpoint pen. Put the pen next to the pores with the tip facing up. The tip should cover at least 3+ pores. If it covers less than three points, the mushroom may be another species of Trametes. If it does, you’re likely to 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 flexible, which can also tell you how fresh they are, as mushrooms age they become hard and rigid. If the mushroom you're examining is hard or rigid than it might be another type such as Trametes ochracea.  




4. Fourth, observe the caps of the mushroom. Are there rings of varying color? If so, the colors should be starkly contrasting and distinctive between one another to indicate a true turkey tail. 


These steps are a great starting point to Turkey Tail mushroom identification. For a more in-depth foraging experience, identification books and field guides can be particularly 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 present in our environment. This can be viewed as an opportunity to connect our communities and disconnect from the doom-scrolling of social media. We can learn more from what these mushrooms can teach us through a true hands on approach. 


Written by: Maria Orozco 


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

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