Another entry today from Bryant — should have appeared yesterday, but time is scarce for me at the moment. Bryant writes:
Today’s photograph is courtesy of my brother Douglas DeRoy, and the subject is Trametes versicolor (commonly known as turkey tails). This image was taken near the mouth of Redwood Creek, in northern California. As the name versicolor suggests, its colouration can vary greatly. However, this particular colony has one of the most mesmerizing displays I’ve ever seen! This species is one of the more common basidiomycetes (with a near-global distribution), but due to its variation, it is always a pleasure to come across. Visit Michael Kuo’s excellent site for images displaying the colour variation in Trametes versicolor.
Trametes veriscolor can be found on decaying hardwood throughout the year. Its colorful patterns often darken with age and are sometimes supplemented with green colouration by hosting green algae. Each of the individual fan-shaped fruiting bodies may grow to 10cm (4″) wide or slightly more. The underside of the pileus (or cap) is pale white or yellow, with many tiny pores that are barely visible with the naked eye. The mycelium of this species actively decomposes hardwoods causing “white rot”, which results when lignin is decayed and cellulose remains. The prolific shelf-like growth habit of the specimen photographed is common and they often cover entire logs or stumps. It is labeled as inedible due to its dry and leathery flesh, however there are reports of it being used as a tea or tincture (though this is not recommended unless you can confirm the identification with an expert).
Trametes versicolor has an extensive ethnnobotanical history and continues to be the subject for a number of different economic botany research endeavors. Medicinally, it has a protein-bound polysaccharide known as Polysaccharide-K, which has shown an ability to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells. It is currently used in Japan, China, Australia and some countries in Europe for cancer treatment. Trametes versicolor is also thought to be a good candidate for bioremediation or mycoremediation and biopulping (PDF). Lastly, Trametes versicolor has been used as a dye to colour paper and wool.