First forage – turkey tail, birch polypore and more

The thing that sold our new home to us was most definitely the garden/land.  We have about 2.6 acres of garden, vegetable and fruit gardens, lawns, a meadow and a small bit of woodland.  This allows for a very rich wild flora and fauna to exist right outside our door.  I had seen a few mushrooms/fungus earlier in the week and today I decided to go and harvest some of them and to have a go at drying them in my new de-hydrator that I was given for Christmas.

I had turkey tail, hairy curtain crust and birch polypore to retrieve.

Turkeytails have been used in many culture’s traditional medicine – in China, they’re known as yun zhi. In Japan, turkeytails are kawaritake – ‘cloud mushrooms’. Both cultures have used turkeytail in tea and powdered form to support immunity and gut health as well as a cancer treatment for hundreds of years. More recently, a Japanese pharmaceutical company has been trialling turkeytail as a anti-cancer, post chemotherapy support – with marked success.

So far, it’s mainly the polysaccarides in turkeytails that has been identified as medicinal – these polysaccarides are mostly water soluble, so some can be extracted by making a simple mushroom tea. Some others are not water soluble, so can be extracted using an alcohol tincture method.


The natural anti-viral qualities of turkeytail has seen them used to boost immunity generally, as well as being used specifically to fight off and/or lessen the impact of colds, E.coli, and even things like HIV. Not bad for a little mushroom.


This is obviously a big call. But multiple studies now show turkeytail to be an effective anti-cancer treatment, in addition to it’s long-term traditional medicinaluse. As turkeytail is a traditional medicine, it’s very hard to patent, which means few pharmaceutical companies have put the money into researching its benefits, says Dr Paul Stamets.

Regardless, turkeytail continues to be used successfully in cancer recovery treatments, and hopefully, in it’s immunity-boosting form, also for prevention.


Turkey Tail
Turkey Tail

Hairy Curtain Crust is also know as False Turkey Tail as it looks very similar.  This batch was growing side by side with the Turkey Tail.

Clinical tests have shown it has food antioxidant properties. Benzoate extract of its mycelia is also actively antimicrobial against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It also contains four epidioxysterols, of which two (1,4) possess significant activity against TB Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Dry extract of Stereum hirsutum has significant inhibitory activity on thrombin (due to glycerolipids). This means that it could be used to make a blood thinning medication as an alternative to the dangerous drug warfarin.



Hairy Curtain Crust

Birch Polypore also has some great medicinal properties.

Birch trees contain betulinic acid which has many health benefits, there are also other chemicals in the Birch Polypore that are beneficial for being healthy. With modern research it is becoming clear that the Birch Polypore is an important mushroom to look into, tests have been carried out and so far found the following.

Antiviral. In tests extracts from the Birch Polypore blocked reproduction in HIV cells, attacked and incapacitated encephalitis infections and has proved positive in treating flu, yellow fever and West Nile flu.

Antibiotic. The Birch Polypore contains the antibiotic piptamine which has been used to treat e-coli.

Anti inflammatory. There are several triterpene acids present and these are known anti-inflammatory substances.

Anti Tumor. Betulinic acid and other chemicals in the fungi have been shown to cause apoptosis, the destruction of cancer cells while not affecting healthy cells.

Antiseptic. For cleaning wounds and being an aid to healing.

Antifungal. This mushroom does not like to share its habitat with other mushrooms and contains some powerful antifungals.

Styptic. The fungus has styptic properties (it staunches bleeding).

The mushroom has very beneficial effects on the immune system and many people drink a tea made from the fresh or dried fungi and swear by its positive effects.
A plaster can be made from the underside of the mushroom, a strip needs to be cut and carefully removed from the pore membrane. This provides a microporus, anti fungal, antiseptic and self sticking plaster, much better than can be purchased from the shops.
A corn or blister plaster can be easily fashioned from the flesh of the mushroom by cutting some flesh into a doughnut shape of the right size and applying to the corn or blister.


Birch PolyporeSomething I was very surprised about when harvesting was how tough the fungi were.  I was expecting them to be delicate and fragile but no – particularly the Birch Polypore but all were pretty tough and actually quite tough to cut off.  So a good sharp knife is advised.

Once harvested I cleaned the pieces with a soft tissue and separated them into small pieces for drying.

The video below shows the process.  I dried them on 55 degrees (which was recommended for mushrooms in the de-hydrator booklet) and eventually for just over 4 hours (the manual suggested between 4 and 10 hours).

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