Trametes versicolor (turkey tail mushroom)

Trametes Versicolor, Vancouver Island, BC
Trametes Versicolor, Vancouver Island, BC, photo by Bud Logan

Trametes versicolor, or as it is more commonly called turkey tail fungus. It can be found all through the year, but you can see it better during the winter when deciduous trees are bare. This very variable fungus grows mainly on dead hardwood, including stumps and standing dead trees as well as fallen branches. These beautiful fungi grow in profusion here on Vancouver Island, but it does not matter how many times you see them, they still catch your eye with their beauty.

This mushroom is used in traditional Chinese medicine as a  boost to the immune system and studies are being done to see what anticarcinogenic properties it contains. Its polysaccharides are thought to be effective constituents. All I know is that it is a great spring elixir. It contains Antioxidants and Polysaccharopeptides, and it seems to help people with poor immune systems, they are well known for their ability to fight cancer.

Trametes Versicolor, Vancouver Island, BC
Trametes Versicolor, Vancouver Island, BC, photo by Bud Logan

As for edibility, they are far too tough to be considered edible, I say that you should just enjoy their beauty, and use them as medicine.

Turkey Tail Medicine

Clean the mushrooms using a small brush

Turkey Tail Mushroom tincture is fairly easy to produce. I have added some photos to show the process. First, you need to clean and dry them, I use a brush to remove all debris, then a dehydrator to dry them. I then use a big blender to break the dried mushroom into small bits and then a small coffee grinder to powder it.

Grind into small pieces using a blender

This powdered form can be used for tea or added to food, never take the powered form without processing it by cooking or brewing in hot water. To get the full medicinal value out of this mushroom, you need to go a step further and create a tincture. More specifically, a dual extract tincture.

Use a coffee grinder to powder the small pieces

Duel Extract Tinctures

Filter the extract until clear, then place in colored glass bottles

This is a fairly straightforward process. To do this you will fill a mason jar about 1/2 full of the dried and powdered mushroom, then add alcohol, use at least 100 proof as this works well, or you can use an organic cane or grape alcohol, I use a 151 proof “Everclear Brand” alcohol, it is grain alcohol. Let this sit for about 6 weeks shaking it up often, I do this once a day, then using a cheesecloth filter, strain the fluid out. I run it through the cheesecloth several times, then using a small basket strainer with a  coffee filter in the basket until clear. I will go through quite a few filters to do this.

Filter until clear, place in colored bottles, and store in a cool dark space.

Put the mash that was left in a pot of water and bring to a boil, then simmer for at least 3 hours, adding water as needed. Remove from heat and cool. Then filter this in the same process as the first batch. Filter until clear, place in colored bottles, and store in a cool dark space.

Medicinal uses of turkey tail include the treatment of lung and liver infections. In China, turkey tail has been used as a preventive and curative agent for liver infections and liver cancer. In Japan, it is considered a panacea for a variety of cancers. Overall, the mycelium and fruiting body of the mushroom is considered to have immune-simulator and anti-carcinogenic activities. Clinical research with PSK began around 1970 and has focused on its immunotherapeutic efficacy in stomach, colorectal, esophageal, nasopharyngeal, lung, and breast cancers. In Japan, it has been approved as a pharmaceutical-grade medicine for cancer treatment and used for more than 30 years with consistent clinical efficacy.

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