|pores on hymenium|
|cap is offset or indistinct|
|hymenium is decurrent|
|lacks a stipe|
|spore print is white to yellow|
|ecology is saprotrophic|
Trametes versicolor – also known as Coriolus versicolor and Polyporus versicolor – is a common polypore mushroom found throughout the world. Meaning 'of several colors', versicolor reliably describes this fungus that displays different colors. For example, because its shape and multiple colors are similar to those of a wild turkey, T. versicolor is commonly called turkey tail. A similar looking mushroom, commonly called false turkey tail, which is from a different order, may sometimes be confused with the turkey tail mushroom due to appearance. Another lookalike is the multicolor gill polypore.
Description and ecology
The top surface of the cap shows typical concentric zones of different colors, and the margin is always the lightest. The flesh is 1–3 mm thick and has leathery texture. Older specimens, such as the one pictured, can have zones with green algae growing on them, thus appearing green. It commonly grows in tiled layers on in groups or rows on logs and stumps of deciduous trees, and is very common in North America. The mushroom is stalkless and the cap is rust-brown or darker brown, sometimes with blackish zones. The cap is flat, up to 8 × 5 x 0.5–1 cm in area. It is often triangular or round, with zones of fine hairs. The pore surface is whitish to light brown, with pores round and with age twisted and labyrinthine. 3–8 pores per millimeter.
It may be eaten by caterpillars of the fungus moth Nemaxera betulinella and by maggots of the Platypezid fly Polyporivora picta. and the fungus gnat Mycetophila luctuosa, but is considered inedible to humans.
Trametes versicolor contains polysaccharides under basic research, including the protein-bound PSP and β-1,3 and β-1,4 glucans. The lipid fraction contains the lanostane-type tetracyclic triterpenoid sterol ergosta-7,22,dien-3β-ol as well as fungisterol and β-sitosterol.
Uses and research
Polysaccharide-K (PSK or krestin), extracted from T. versicolor, is considered safe for use as an adjunct therapy for cancer treatment in Japan where it is known as kawaratake (roof tile mushroom) and approved for clinical use. As a glycoprotein mixture, PSK has been studied in clinical research in people with various cancers and immune deficiencies, but its efficacy remains inconclusive, as of 2021.
Traditional medicine and dietary supplement
Trametes versicolor is used in traditional Chinese medicine or other herbalism practices. In some countries, PSK is sold as a dietary supplement. Use of PSK may cause adverse effects, such as diarrhea, darkened feces, or darkened finger nails.
In 2020, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued warning letters to two manufacturers for advertising misbranded T. versicolor PSK supplements as anti-cancer or immune therapy drugs, stating such products "are not generally recognized as safe and effective for the above referenced uses and, therefore, these products are "new drugs" under section 201(p) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. 321(p). New drugs may not be legally introduced or delivered for introduction into interstate commerce without prior approval from the FDA."
Some may be concerned about the mushroom damaging or killing trees and wish to remove them. Removal of the mushroom and pruning may help affected trees survive.
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