Turkey tail

Updated: May 31

(Trametes versicolour)

Turkey tail (or Turkeytail) used to be known by the common name Many-zoned Polypore in the UK but this has been replaced by its common name originating in the USA. It's a fantastic fungus for children to spot as it is very common and widespread across the UK as well as mainland Europe and North America. It is also found in Asia. It can be found throughout the year.

Trametes means 'thin' and versicolor means 'many colours'. The fruiting bodies are notable thin, 1-3mm, and they do vary a lot in colour, both within and between fruiting bodies. They are often banded with different colours on the surface, usually white or cream on the outermost band. The underside is white or cream with small shallow pores. It is found in overlapping tiered groups, each bracket up to 10cm across.

Turkey tail is a wood rotting fungus (saprotrophic, which means 'rotten nourishment) and can be found on fallen or standing dead wood, most commonly on Oak and Beech. The fruiting body that we see produces spores for reproduction, whilst within the wood, the hyphae of the fungi gets its energy from breaking down the dead wood.

Turkey tail and other saprotrophic fungi can be found in broadleaf woodland, but children can also provide a habitat for them in even a small garden by creating a dead wood habitat pile in a shady spot. As well as wood rotting fungi, this will attract a range of insects and other invertebrates, provide shelter for small mammals and amphibians, and provide a source of food for birds.

Turkey tail is one of the species that we introduce in 'The Tree That Held The Moon' to inspire curiosity and give readers the opportunity to expand their nature vocabulary. Stories are a fantastic way to introduce children to new words and ideas in a fun way. They provide the opportunity for children - and adults - to infer the meanings of words that they do not know; stories help children develop their vocabulary by making connections between known and unknown words.

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