To kick off my latest “Friendly Fungi” blog series, I want to start with one of the most friendly fungi you can forage in the forest – Trametes versicolor a.k.a “Turkey Tail Mushroom”! As an Oregon native, I’ve had the privilege of being just a short walk away from this amazing mushroom most of my life, but it wasn’t until just this last year that I started to really become acquainted with its amazing cancer fighting and immune boosting properties, and I’m really excited to share with you all that I’ve learned so far.
Trametes versicolor typically grows in florette shapes, or in stacks that look similar to roof shingles, on the fallen logs and stumps of hardwood trees. Although it can be found in various locations throughout the world, it is most abundant in the hardwood forests of North America, Asia, and Europe. It is a polypore fungus meaning that is expels its spores into the environment via tiny little pores located on the underside of the mushroom cap. The top of the cap however, is where Trametes versicolor gets its common name “Turkey Tail”, and there we can see the many beautiful and colorful lines and the fan shape of the mushroom itself that give it that familiar turkey tail look. Trametes versicolor is also what is known as a white rot fungus – meaning it feeds off of tree lignin, leaving only white cellulose behind, so when harvesting it yourself it’s important to be mindful to not damage the tree bark and the mycelium layer beneath it. To get a visual example of the “Turkey Tail Mushroom” and its harvesting process, check out the video below!
Once you’ve harvested your Trametes versicolor there are all sorts of things you can do with it, both for fun and for improving your overall health. Not only does this mushroom taste good in soups and sauces, but it’s packed full of beta-glucans and polysaccharides which have been shown to help our bodies fight cancer and boost their immune systems. Though the United States FDA has only supported studies on the medicinal benefits of Trametes versicolor since 2013, its component Polysaccharide – K (PSK) has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine as an adjuvant therapy for treating many cancers since the mid 1970’s. Trametes versicolor can be prepared in many ways – in tinctures, teas, or in capsules – but should be avoided by those with mold and/or fungal allergies. Aside from the possible allergic side-effects, no serious side-effects have been noted in any studies related to ingestion or use of the organism as a nutritional supplement. Before adding anything new to your self-care plan, it’s important to speak with your doctor and discuss with them whether or not taking “Turkey Tail Mushroom” supplements is right for you. If you’d like to learn more about Trametes versicolor and its amazing healing properties be sure to check out our source links sited below.
- Bastyr University, “FDA Approves Bastyr Turkey Tail Trial for Cancer Patients.” Bastyr University General News. n. ed. (2012) n. pag. Web. 22 Oct, 2021. https://bastyr.edu/news/general-news/2012/11/fda-approves-bastyr-turkey-tail-trial-cancer-patients
- Berry, Jennifer. “Do turkey tail mushrooms benefit health?” Medical News Today. March Ed. (2020) n. pag. Web. 23 Oct. 2021. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/turkey-tail-mushroom
- Mountain Rose Herbs. Turkey Tail Mushroom Product Description, 2021. Web.
23 Oct. 2021. https://mountainroseherbs.com/turkey-tail-mushroom
- PDQ Integrative, Alternative, and Complementary Therapies Editorial Board.
“Medicinal Mushrooms (PDQ®): Patient Version.” PDQ Cancer Information Summaries. Bethesda (MD): National Cancer Institute (US). (2021). n. pag. 22 Oct. 2021. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK424937/
- TEDMED. prod. “Paul Stamets at TEDMED 2011.” YouTube. YouTube, 21 Feb.
2012, Web. 23 Oct. 2021. https://youtu.be/pXHDoROh2hA
- Willard, Yarrow. prod. “Turkey Tail Mushroom | Medicine Making, ID, Harvest,
and More.” YouTube. YouTube, 6 Nov. 2018. Web. 22 Oct. 2021.
- Woden Photography. Trametes versicolor. Photograph. Web. 23 Oct. 2021