False Turkey Tail

Stereum ostrea
Not recommended/not edible
Family

Stereaceae

Description

Large, layered groups of leathery, parchmentlike brackets with multicolored zones; underside smooth. Grows on stumps and logs of deciduous trees. Year-round. Cap semicircular, irregular; zones of browns, rusts, and sometimes green (from algae); texture leathery, hairy. Underside buff-colored, smooth. Stalk not present. Spore print white. Spores magnified are cylindrical, smooth.

Lookalikes: The "true" turkey tail (Trametes versicolor) has pores on the underside. The multicolor gill polypore (Lenzites betulina) has a gill-like underside.

Size

Cap width: ½ –4 inches.

false_turkey_tail_cluster_04-11-13.jpg

Photo of several false turkey tail bracket fungi growing on log
False Turkey Tail Clustered On Log

false_turkey_tail_on_wood_04-11-13.jpg

Side view photo of many false turkey tail bracket fungi growing on log
False Turkey Tail Clustered On Log
Habitat and conservation

Grows in large, layered groups on stumps and logs of deciduous trees, especially oaks. It is extremely common. Although it has a smooth (not pored) underside, it looks and grows like a pored bracket.

image of False Turkey Tail distribution map
Distribution in Missouri

Statewide.

Status

Not edible.

Life cycle

This species exists as a network of fungal cells (mycelium) within rotting wood. The mycelium obtains nourishment by digesting, and rotting, the wood. When ready to reproduce, the mycelium develops the brackets outside the wood, which are reproductive structures. Spores are produced on the underside of the brackets and are released to begin new mycelia elsewhere.

Human connections

Mushrooms decorate nature the way wildflowers do, adding to our pleasure on hikes. Like wildflowers, even the humblest of fungi can be strikingly beautiful. Discovering these wonders can bring out our innate capacity for awe and wonder.

Ecosystem connections

This is one of the many fungus species that live on decaying wood. It and other such saprobic fungi play an incredibly important role in breaking down the tough materials wood is made of and returning those nutrients to the soil.