Thursday, November 24, 2022

Turkey Tail Tales, Redux

Dear Readers, I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving, filled with many joys to be grateful for.  As it happens, I am so occupied with hosting and cooking duties right now that I have no new woodland adventures to share today.  But I happened to revisit this Thanksgiving post from a few years ago, and I found it just as pleasing to me today as it was the first time I posted it.  I hope you will find it so, as well.

I have been way too busy cooking and preparing to host many dear guests to create a new Happy Thanksgiving blog. But I hope all my readers have a wonderful day of feasting and family love, without too much friction among folks either happy or mad about our recent elections. (Lucky for me and my dear family, our extended members who might want to fight are as far apart geographically as along the political spectrum.) I was hoping to get outdoors today, but indoor duties took preference, so I'm taking a walk through my photo files instead.  Since turkey stars so prominently in Thanksgiving feasts,  how about we look at a few variations of that beautiful fungus called Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor)? This is the ruffly fungus shown in the photo above, sharing its fallen log with the vivid orange mushroom called Mycena leailana.  I always thought this particular combination of fungi would make a beautiful centerpiece for the Thanksgiving table.

As the following sequence of photos shows, this is a very aptly named fungus, whether we call it by its common name or its scientific one.  With its fan-shaped fruiting bodies displaying bands of alternating colors, it does rather resemble the spread-out tail of a courting or challenging tom turkey. And as its specific name, versicolor, suggests, it comes in a wide variety of colors.

Probably the most common colors we find are varying shades of tan and brown, from the softest ecrus and ivories and cafe-au-laits to the deepest chocolates.

Then once in a while, we come upon a mass of Turkey Tails with bands of vivid blue and vibrant orange.

Here's one I found with bands of bright orange set off by a wash of avocado green, thanks to a green-algae coating.

Somehow, the green bands in this vividly colorful example do not look as if they were caused by algae, because that green tint is confined to its distinctly separate bands, rather than spreading across all bands. One gorgeous -- and quite unusual -- combination of colors!

Just recently, I stopped in amazement before this gorgeous mass of Turkey Tails with bands of school-bus yellow alternating with bands of blue. This was a combination I had never seen before.

Then luck would have it, I soon came across that schoolbus yellow again, only this time alternating with bands of dove gray.

All of these examples display the strikingly zonate bands of contrasting colors that are typical for this fungus, and a closer look would reveal that these zones are often different in texture as well as color, with fuzzy zones alternating with smoother ones.  This fuzzy or velvety texture of the cap, as well as the starkly contrasting color zones are among the features that distinguish this species of Trametes from other similar members of its genus.  Another distinguishing feature of Turkey Tail is that the fresh caps are thin and flexible, not rigid and hard.

The Turkey Tail  is one of the polypore fungi, meaning that its fertile surface consists of many pores instead of gills.  We have many other species of polypores, but in the case of Turkey Tail, these pores, while visible, are very tiny, presenting as many as 8 pores per millimeter.

This fungus grows on the deadwood of hardwoods and only rarely on conifer logs. And to the delight of woods walkers in every season, it can be found year-round.  I'm hoping that after my hostess duties ease  and my flagging energies revive  that I can get back out to the woods very soon. Perhaps I will come upon a beautiful arrangement like this:  vividly striped Turkey Tails sharing a mossy log with gray-green lichens.

Wishing all my readers a Thanksgiving Day filled with love and gratefulness.  I am so grateful for the friends and family members who fill all of my days with love and joy, and also for the many wonders our Mother Nature surrounds us with here on earth.  May those wonders inspire us all to work to preserve them for generations to come.


threecollie said...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Woody Meristem said...

Thanks for the turkey-tails, one of my favorite and most colorful fungi.

suep said...

I will always remember the day we saw that blue one, high up on the mountain in the winter !
This is a beautiful collection of versicolor.