Turkey Tail Mushroom Identification

Unveiling the Secrets of this Colorful Fungi

Turkey tail is a forager’s dream. It’s an incredibly beneficial mushroom that grows practically everywhere, and it’s one of the easiest fungi to identify and harvest.

Want to try it out for yourself? The first step is learning how to recognize it. I’m here to help with a complete guide to turkey tail identification, including how to distinguish it from similar species and where to search for the best results.

How to Identify Turkey Tail

It’s a multi-hued mycelium strongly resembling an actual turkey’s tail, with a fan-shaped fruiting body measuring anywhere from 0.5” to 4” in diameter. The cap is sectioned into bands, each featuring a different color zone.

Turkey tail is a saprobe mushroom, a decomposer that feeds on decaying matter. You’ll only find it growing on dead or dying wood, never from the ground or a cow patty.

You also won’t find it growing alone. Turkey tails always grow together in shelves or rosettes. They sprout directly from their substrate and do not have a stem.

Unfortunately, turkey tail has many look-alikes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shouted in glee upon discovering a massive cache, only to be disappointed when I realized it wasn’t true turkey tail.

The good news is you can avoid the emotional rollercoaster of false identification. Once you find a batch of what you believe may be turkey tail, harvest a single fungus for examination. Then, look closely to separate the tails from the fails.

Pore Surface

Does the fungus have a pore surface on its underside? If so, you’re on the right track. Like many saprobes, turkey tail is a polypore mushroom.

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