Trametes versicolor

I collect this mushroom for its reputed medicinal properties, not for its culinary merit. Commonly known as turkey tail, Trametes versicolor is a wood rotting polypore that grows on the side of felled oak logs and other dead or dying hardwoods. Common and beautiful, with muticolored bands of black, brown, tan, white, yellow and red on thin leathery shelves, the turkey tail has clearly visible small white pores underneath each shelf (there are two inverted shelves on the left in the above photo, but the resolution isn't high enough to show the individual pores.) The visible pores distinguish it from Stereum hirsutum, which is more papery, orange fleshed when fresh, and lacks pores. Neither species will hurt you if you eat it, but only the Trametes has supposedly beneficial qualities.

Some herbalists and traditional Chinese healers credit the turkey tail with excellent immune strengthening properties, and recommend drying it for tea. Herbalist Christopher Hobbs recommends chewing a piece of Trametes versicolor like gum while hiking out in the woods. I have tried this, and it's not too bad - slightly sour and musty tasting. I prefer to dry it, then boil a few pieces along with other herbs (licorice, echinacea, ginseng and ginger for example.) It certainly hasn't hurt me, and the tea tastes quite nice on a cold winter night.