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Nature Notebook – Turkey Tail

Mushrooms are a constant but sometimes overlooked organism seen while walking in the woods. One of the most common mushrooms I see year-round is commonly called turkey tail, or Trametes versicolor. No, this fungus doesn’t have feathers. The shelf-like mushroom resembles a turkey tail by color, mostly browns and reds, and its wavy appearance.

This is one of the most common mushrooms in North American woods and can be found mainly on dead hardwood logs and stumps, aiding in the decomposition process.

There are some look-a-like turkey tails, but to tell if it’s truly the species Trametes versicolor, look on the underside of the mushroom. If it’s a true turkey tail, the bottom will look like it’s been poked with a bunch of tiny holes, or pores, which the mushroom stores its spores in for reproduction.  The look-a-likes will either be smooth, have teeth, or gills on the underside, even if the tops look similar.