Turkey Tail - Trametes versicolor

Why get to know this mushroom:

Turkey tail identification colour bands, soft hair, and fine pores on underside.

Turkey tail identification colour bands, soft hair, and fine pores on underside.

This abundantly growing POLYPORE is likely growing on a fallen log near you. It has countless immune system benefits and is part of conventional cancer therapy treatment in Japan. The two compounds of interest are PSK (polysaccharide kretin) and PSP (polysaccharide peptide) and both have huge roles to play in helping the body identify and fight cancer cells, fight HIV infections and act in proper modulation of both the innate and adaptive immune systems.

How to Identify Turkey Tail:

POLYPORE. do you understand what that classification means? It's a mushroom whose underside is composed of many (poly) pores, as opposed to gilled mushrooms, who have striated gills. There are no toxic polypores (well that isn't entirely true as Hapalopilus nidulans is a small rare polypore that has toxic effects) but in the woods in the west coast, if you are LOOKING for turkey tail (Trametes versicolor) then you are likely going to just have to identify it from other species of the Trametes genus. Beginners, sure that it is not a crust fungi look-a-like and that you are looking at a polypore.

1.     Look at the underside pore surface, some look alikes may be gilled do you have a pore structure?

2.     How many pores per mm. do you have 1-3 pores per mm or do you have 3-8 pores per mm. true Trametes versicolor has 3-8 pores per mm.

3.     Is thetop surface velvety, hairy or fuzzy? Yes? then continue...

4.     Look at the cap color. Is it grey to white? If so then this is another Trametes but not the specific species, this is Trametes hirsuta. But is it brown and striated, or reddish brown as well? And doe sit have starkly contrasting colour zones so that the colours are not blending into one another? Then yes continue...

5.     Is it rigid and hard? Some are hard almost as made of stone, but this is not the kind you want, turkey tail (Trametes versicolor) is like a poorly tanned leather that is flexible 

Where to find:

Turkey Tail growing on fallen log

Turkey Tail growing on fallen log

I find this mushroom every time I go for a walk in the woods of the west coast; it is an abundant medicine, It grows on fallen decaying logs and branches, and  if you simply watch along the sides of the trail for fallen logs you will see the feathery looking mushrooms. It grows world wide. 

How to use:

Collect healthy and fresh specimens, give a thanks and never harvest more than 10% of what is on one log. One of my favourite Paul Stamets quotes is "Nature rewards those to love and respect Nature". So as with all wild harvest; be respectful and the harvest is that much more powerful. Mushrooms can be decocted fresh in 2-3 cups of water which can be frozen and kept for future need for immune system help. Alternatively to dry have them sit out for 2-3 days or until totally hard. Then place in freezer for at least 24 hours  to kill any thing that may need it. Dried trametes do not keep too long before they turn into a powder so I recommend using for tea 1-2 months after harvest or making a decoction then placing the decocted water in a yogurt container and storing in the freezer until needed.

 

Medicinal Components:

T. versicolor: PSK (polysaccharide krestin), PSP (polysaccharide peptide), lipids (1.7 percent), containing ergosta-7, 22, dien-3 (ol), a major sterol of many polypores, as well as ergost-7-en-3(ol) and ergopsterol (provitamin D2), polyhydroxysteroids, cerevisterol, tetraol, sitsterols, coriolan; 3 beta, 5 alpha, 9 gamma-trihydroxygosta-7, 22-dien-6-one, 11 percent protein, 76 percent complex carbohydrates and various B vitamins and minerals.

 

References: 

Hobbs, Christopher (1995) Medicinal Mushrooms: An Exploration of Tradition, Healing and Culture. Interweave Press Inc. 161-166

Rogers, Robert (2014) The Fungal Pharmacy: The Complete Guide to Medicinal Mushrooms & Lichens of North America. North Atlantic Books. p. 400-414

Torkelson, C. et. al. (2012) Phase 1 Clinical Trial of Trametes Versicolor in Women with Breast Cancer. ISRN Oncology. v 2012. v251632

http://www.mushroomexpert.com/trametes_versicolor.html

 

WARNING: DO NOT harvest any mushroom that you are unfamiliar with without taking samples, photos and speaking to someone who knows for sure. Although polypores are generally safe you want to be sure that you do indeed have the right mushroom before ingesting.

WARNING: DO NOT harvest any mushroom that you are unfamiliar with without taking samples, photos and speaking to someone who knows for sure. Although polypores are generally safe you want to be sure that you do indeed have the right mushroom before ingesting.