Turkey Tail {InstaScience}

Turkey Tail is one of the most common species in the shelf fungus family, so chances are good you have seen one of these!

I’ll be honest, I know what shelf fungus is, but until we starting doing nature study in our our homeschool, I never really considered that there were different types of shelf fungus.

Oh sure, I had noticed differences, but we never really thought to find out why. You may feel the same way and it’s cool, I understand. But, let me tell you there is an awesome variety of shelf fungi out there. And today I am sharing about one of my newly name fav’s – turkey tail fungus.

Shelf fungus grows on dead tree stumps or fallen logs. It has a tough, woody fruiting body that resembles a shelf or bracket, which is that part we can see. Inside the decaying wood, though, there is a network of mycelium that act as the heartbeat of the fungi, transporting nutrients and water.

The turkey tail fungus is named for its resemblance to a turkey tail. I can be colored white, brown, red, orange, blue, purple, or a combination of those colors. The fan-shaped “tails” often overlap giving the appearance of a fan of feathers. It’s one of the most common species in the shelf fungus family, so chances are good you have seen one of these!

Fun Fact – In 2012, the FDA approved a clinical trial for the using a type of Turkey Tail fungus to fight cancer. Read the article here.

Teaching Science at Home

Want to learn more about this shelf fungus? Check out the following articles:

Related Homeschool Science Activities

Keep the learning going with these science activities!

  • Shelf Fungus Hunt – Head outside to look for shelf fungus. Look for fallen logs or dead trees to see if you spot any.
  • Turkey Tail Art – Turkey Tail is a beautiful subject to paint or draw with chalk pastels! Have your students try to recreate the turkey tail fungus you found on your walk in their nature journals!

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