Turkey Tail, A Powerful Medicinal Mushroom

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Trametes versicolor, Turkey Tail Mushroom
Trametes versicolor, Turkey Tail Mushroom(Photo By Joi Ito/Flickr)

Turkey Tail Mushroom (Trametes versicolor) is a very common mushroom that can be found all over the world.  It is a decayer of wood and the mushrooms last a long time, often living into the winter. Turkey Tail Mushroom is an ancient indigenous medicine for different cultures around the world. It can be found growing on many types of wood in warm and cold climates alike.

Edibility and Culinary Use

Turkey Tail is almost always used to make a tea.  The tea, not surprisingly has a mushroomy flavor.  Probably best used mixed with other components.

Health Benefits

Trametes versicolor, Turkey Tail Mushroom
Trametes versicolor, Turkey Tail Mushroom(Photo By Jerzy Opiota/Wikimedia)

Turkey Tail has an ancient history of being used as a medicinal mushroom. Recent scientific research has found that Turkey Tail Mushroom contains Polysacharide-k which is shown to display anticancer activity in tests.  It is useful against a number of different cancer types and acts against the disease in multiple ways.  It may also have antiviral activity and could help strengthen the immune system. It has been used in traditional medicine for a number things including to help fight chronic illnesses.


There are no known side effects to Turkey Tail Mushroom. There are some look-a-likes which are not known to be highly toxic but there toxicity has not been studied as much as turkey tail.

Key ID Features

Trametes versicolor, Turkey Tail Mushroom
Trametes versicolor, Turkey Tail Mushroom(Photo By Steve Jurvetson/Flickr)

Turkey Tails will only be found growing on dead wood.  The coloration reminds us of a Turkey’s Tail with banding of different shades radiating out from the cap. The pores and spore print are whitish.  That being said there are a number of Fungus that look like Turkey Tail. To rule out crust fungus (Genus:Stereum) make sure that you can actually see the pores, although very small it should not look like a smooth white surface. That will at least get you to the genus Trametes.  To narrow it down to Trametes versicolor make sure the cap is a little fuzzy, the color is not Whitish, the rings of color are sharply contrasting each other, and that the mushroom is somewhat flexible and not hard.


The health benefits of Turkey Tail are legendary.  It has been shown to help fight cancer and has been used for a number of other health reasons.  This mushroom is extremely easy to find most times of the year.  Most people aren’t aware that this safe and powerful medicinal fungus is so common and was an important item for our ancestors.  Next time you feel the need for a hot tea throw in some Turkey Tail for added health benefits.

Read our Article on: Safe Foraging

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