What’s Growing in the Woods

It is so amazing to me that I have lived here for 24 years and there is always something new that pops up in the fields or in the woods or down by the creek. OK so the first 19 years I didn’t really care what was growing as long as there was grass for the horses and tomatoes in my garden! 😀

So it’s Early September here in GA, still hot but at least we had some good rain this week. Well of course it rained – the days I watered my gardens, flower beds, mushroom logs. That is always the way.

It was fairly cool this morning and I took Luke, my cute dog, for a walk in the woods to see if anything new was growing.

Luke at the creek
Luke at the creek

I am such a plant geek, I do this every couple of days. You never know!!! There all kinds of these teeny, tiny almost clear white mushrooms everywhere – they dotted logs, the ground and they were pretty cool looking. Not sure what they were and I don’t mess with any that I am not positively sure that they aren’t going to kill me or make me hallucinate.

What I did find were 3 logs, right next to each other with fresh turkey tail mushrooms, covering them completely!!! Yee Ha!

Wanna know more about turkey tails? I am fairly new to these and have just started my first tincture with them but only had a small handful, now I can make a good bit. Turkey Tail Mushrooms (Trametes versicolor) can be found on dead logs all throught the United States. I have mistaken a few others for turkey tails but they weren’t. Luckily I know a mushroom expert – Megan Burry of My Quality Mushrooms.

The mushrooms do kind of look like the tail of a turkey with the variety of colors – but tend to stay in the buff, brown, cinnamon, and reddish brown range. The mushrooms are strikingly “zonate” with sharply contrasting concentric zones of color, and the surface of the cap is finely fuzzy or velvety. Often the zones represent contrasts in texture as well as color, so that fuzzy zones alternate with smoother ones.

The turkey tails look like they grow in a rosette pattern on the log unlike the parchment mushrooms.

4 different mushrooms found but the top right is the parchment mushroom(I think) - not a turkey tail.
4 different mushrooms found but the top right is the parchment mushroom(I think) – not a turkey tail.

turkey tails

This was the logs that I found – sweet! Before going into the id, I thought I would tell you what they are good for. Like most medicinal mushrooms turkey tails help the immune system due to the polysaccharides like beta glucans – boosting it, giving strength to a sluggish immune system and making it stronger. Also it has been used for cancer treatments in Asia. If I remember correctly this mushroom is part of Paul Stamets Mushroom Supplements.

Here is a test to determine if it is a true Turkey Tail from Mushroom Expert.com

Totally True Turkey Tail Test

1) Is the pore surface a real pore surface? Like, can you see actual pores?

Yes: Continue.

No: See Stereum ostrea and other crust fungi

    .

2) Squint real hard. Would you say there are about 1-3 pores per millimeter (which would make them fairly easy to see), or about 3-8 pores per millimeter (which would make them very tiny)?

3-8 per mm: Continue.

1-3 per mm: See several other species of Trametes

    .

3) Is the cap conspicuously fuzzy, velvety, or finely hairy (use a magnifying glass or rub it with your thumb)?

Yes: Continue.

No: See several other species of Trametes

    .

4) Is the fresh cap whitish to grayish?

Yes: See Trametes hirsuta

No:

        Continue.

 

5) Does the cap lack starkly contrasting color zones (are the zones merely textural, or do they represent subtle shades of the same color)?

Yes: See Trametes pubescens

No: 

        Continue.

 

6) Is the fresh mushroom rigid and hard, or thin and flexible?

Rigid and hard:

        See

Trametes ochracea

Thin and flexible:

    Totally True Turkey Tail.

Description:

Ecology: Saprobic on the deadwood of hardwoods, or rarely on the wood of conifers; annual; causing a white rot of the sapwood; growing in dense, overlapping clusters or rosettes on logs and stumps; year-round; very widely distributed and common in North America.

Cap: Up to 10 cm across; only a few mm thick; flexible when fresh; circular, semicircular, bracket-shaped, or kidney-shaped; often fused with other caps; densely hairy or velvety, often with alternating zones of texture; with concentric zones of white, brown, cinnamon, and reddish brown (but highly variable in color and sometimes with other shades, including blue, green, and orange).

Pore Surface: Whitish to pale grayish; not bruising; with 4 or more tiny pores per mm; tubes up to 3 mm deep.

Flesh: Insubstantial; whitish; tough and leathery.

Odor and Taste: Not distinctive.

Chemical Reactions: KOH negative to yellowish on flesh.

Spore Print: Whitish.

Now I am no mushroom expert so some of the questions above are still beyond my realm. I did attempt my first spore print today from a mushroom I was not sure of but still can’t id it – hee hee! For now I will stick with Chanterelles, Shiitakes and Turkey Tails.

So I will be clipping away to fill a jar of turkey tails for my tincture. Also mushroom tinctures are a bit different from regular herbal tinctures because they require two processes.

The Double Extraction Process – from Goldroot Botanical Medicine – a couple good recipes on there too.

Tincturing Medicinal Mushrooms: The Double Extraction Process

Mushroom tinctures are made using a double-extraction technique. First, the alcohol extracts the constituents that are not soluble in water, like sterols & terpenes. After the mushrooms have been extracted in alcohol, it goes through a hot water extraction or decoction process to extract the beta-glucans, proteoglycans, and other immune-supporting polysaccharides. The below steps outline the double extraction process using the folk method of tincturing. (For more detailed recipes and ratios, see references below.)

Part 1: Alcohol extraction

Break the fruitbodies up into the smallest pieces possible. This makes for a larger surface area and thorough extraction. It’s easier to do this while they’re still fresh before drying.

  1. Fill a quart or half-gallon canning jar halfway with the dried mushroom.
  2. Add the vodka, filling the jar to the top. Label it!
  3. Cap the jar and keep it in a warm, dark place. Agitate daily.
  4. After about a month, strain.

Part 2: Hot water extraction

  1. Take the alcohol-soaked mushroom pieces that are left over after straining (called the marc) and put them in a pot. Cover them with water.
  2. Simmer for 2 hours. The water will evaporate throughout this time.
  3. Allow the tea to cool before you strain it. Discard all the solids but save the water.
  4. Add this water to an equal amount of the alcohol extract. This gives you an extract that’s 25% alcohol, as the vodka was 100 proof to begin with (50% water/50% alcohol).

You may need to do some measuring before you boil the water to make sure you have enough. Gauge the amount of liquid used in your first alcohol tincture and boil at least triple that amount of water for the hot water extraction. It may seem like a lot but it will reduce (you can always keep boiling if it doesn’t).

Suggested use varies depending on the size of the person and the strength of the tincture. A good standard amount is 1/2 of a teaspoon taken 2–3x a day. It should keep for about 2 years. And as always, store in a cool place in dark-colored bottles away from direct sunlight.

I will continue on this in the next couple days and let you know what else is growing in the woods.

Nighty, night ya’ll,

Anne-Marie

 

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