Mushroom Hunters Club

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This page is used to feature mushrooms that are prevalent for the particular time of the year or, during the winter months, to feature some of the less desirable or hard to find mushrooms. To see some of our previous stars follow this link to an index of previously featured mushrooms.

                November's Mushroom of the Month

Stereum Ostrea: False Turkey Tail


Photo Credit: Arthur Chapman

In our area false turkey tail is more common than turkey tail (see March 2013).  Since some of our members including myself make tea from the turkey tail, I thought we should learn the differences between these two shelf mushrooms.  Turkey tail has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years but as no definitive double blind studies have been performed on its efficacy, I will not mention the alleged medicinal effects.

The irregular, semicircular or bracketlike caps of false turkey tail range from ½ to 4 inches (1 to 10 cm.) across.  The densely hairy caps are zonate in shades of brown and rust.

Turkey tail has an outer band or zone that is tan with shades of gray, blue, brown, green or reddish brown making up the inner bands of color. The fertile undersurface of false turkey tail is smooth with no pores.  This is the major feature distinguishing false turkey tail from turkey tail.  Under magnification the pores of turkey tail are obvious whereas false turkey tail has a totally smooth hymenium (spore producing surface).  Another look-alike is Trametes pubescens whose band of color alternate white, grayish yellow and yellow.  All of these leathery-textured mushrooms grow in overlapping shelves on hardwood logs and stumps.

Phil Tedeschi

Photo Credit: Martin Livezey