Vero Beach is home to the Greenway, a 3mi. nature trail that loops through oak forests and wetlands alongside the Indian River Lagoon. While walking there Sunday, I photo-graphed an oak log totally covered in mushroom-like growths. When I got home, I ran straight to Google ➡ turns out I’d seen Trametes versicolor, a polypore (bracket fungus) seen mostly on sick or decaying hardwood trees. In the next photo, you’ll see why this fungi’s fruiting body is commonly called “Turkey Tail:” T. versicolor’s banding pattern resembles the tail of a strutting turkey! Most are dark to light brown, alternating with light colored bands of white to tan, with still more bands of blue, gray, orange or maroon. They can be strikingly beautiful, and are among the fungi most easily observed in the wild. Unlike their mushroom “cousins” that disappear quickly, Turkey Tails are leathery and long-lived, with some shelves lasting an entire year.
In addition to being a prolific fruiter, T. versicolor is found in every state of the U.S. and almost every region of the world, including Siberia. Traditional Asian medicine has long used this fungus in the fight against cancer by extracting polysaccharide K (PSK) and polysaccharide-peptide (PSP) from the fruiting bodies. Studies show both substances boost cancer patients’ immune systems when used in conjunction with traditional medicine, sometimes doubling life expectancy! Research is ongoing.
To learn more about this Thanksgiving themed fungus, visit Mushroomexpert.com.
- Country diary: Ecclesall Woods, Sheffield: Jelly drops are only one of the treats this dead beech offers (theguardian.com)
- Woody Flowers? (forestgardenblog.wordpress.com)
- An Analysis Of Core Aspects In Epimedium Icariin (martianssay.com)
- Nature Trails Can Offer Living History Lessons (nairegion3.wordpress.com)
- Turkey tail mushroom finally being studied in U.S. after 30 years of use in cancer treatment in Japan (fromthetrenchesworldreport.com)