Turkey Tail mushrooms

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I’ve seen these mushrooms before and called them “little brown ruffles.” I was recently surprised to find them in the backyard and learned they are called Turkey Tail mushrooms (Trametes veriscolor).

Maxine Stone’s Missouri’s Wild Mushrooms and the Mushroom Expert were helpful in identifying them. The amusing name refers to the mushroom’s design and colors that resemble the tail of a strutting wild turkey.

Trametes veriscolor

Mushrooms seem magical and mysterious to me. They appear unexpectedly in all different places with different shapes, sizes, and colors. I’m intrigued by them but know very little about them.

I now know that Turkey Tail mushrooms are very common throughout the world. They usually grow on dead wood. These are growing on a stick of Dogwood from the tree we cut down last fall. They are edible and used in Chinese medicine. They are even being considered as a treatment for cancer.

dogwood stick with trametes veriscolor

According to Ms. Stone’s book, Turkey Tail mushrooms have pores instead of gills. When I checked the underside, I did indeed find pores and a different kind of beauty – click image for a closer view.

underside of trametes veriscolorI especially like this close-up view.

close-up of underside of trametes veriscolor

I’ve seen these mushrooms many times in the woods and it was a special treat to find them in our yard. I like knowing their name and learning a little bit about them, and having this connection to woods all over the world.

12 thoughts on “Turkey Tail mushrooms

  1. I see these all the time at the Red River Gorge and always pause to admire their beauty. Turkey tail is the perfect name. I’m hoping to follow your lead and get some logs for my garden so maybe I’ll get some of my own turkey tails, too!

    • Ann, I’ll be glad to contribute a stick of Dogwood to your garden. We have several in our stack of wood, but only the one stick that is on the ground has “tails”. Maybe it has to do with moisture?

  2. When I was in high school (a few years back) I was in a junior garden club in Corbin, KY. We went for a hike at Cumberland Falls and one of the women had us gather the mushrooms. She took them back and preserved them in some way (shellac?) to use in flower arrangements. I don’t remember much about this except that they were beautiful. Thanks, Betty. You brought back memories.

    • Probably not, Larry. My sources say they can be ground and put in soups or teas but I think I’ll pass. If I found myself lost in the woods and starving to death I might be glad to give them a try. I’ll certainly be glad to share with you if you like to try them. (smile)

  3. Hi Betty, I see these in the woods a lot, too. Now I will not only be glad to know their fun name when I see them, but I will think of you, too, and both things will make me smile!

  4. Turkey tail mushroom grows in northwest Wisconsin and central Massachusetts. I just finished taking a mushroom class with Tavis and Martha of Martha’s Mushrooms (on Facebook). I already knew that turkey tail was known for its medicinal properties with its ability to attack cancer tumors. I am seriously gathering turkey tail now to stock my medicine chest from my sister’s woods in Fitchburg, MA. We all need to learn how to use medicinal mushrooms. Mushrooms have the ability to soak up toxins. Just think of this. Paul Stamen (sp) taught us about this at a sustainability fair in Tesuque Pueblo, New Mexico, a few years back.

    • Mary Ellen, glad to know of your interest in mushrooms. I find them fascinating and want to know more about them. I’m not on Facebook but will check about an online class. We recently enjoyed eating Giant Puffballs for the first time. Will think of you the next time I see Turkey Tails.

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