It can be helpful to know how to identify your favorite plants even in the winter, so that come spring, you know just where to look for that choice medicinal / edible.
The plants to follow were found en route to the swamp in the Milford Experimental Forest as well as along the trail winding through the Pike County Park and over the gas pipeline.
|Black Birch (Betula lenta) lenticels|
|Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)|
|underside of Turkey Tail mushroom|
|Turkey Tail growing on dead standing birch|
|Turkey Tail on rotting stump|
Now, as far as mushrooms go, I am but a budding mushroom enthusiast, still stumbling my way through the woods, marveling at the fungi at my feet, but with little knowledge of that which I'm inspecting. However, I do believe these to be Turkey Tails (Trametes versicolor). Versicolor means "of many colors" which accurately describes this shroom's many guises. However all Turkey Tails will bear this design of parallel lines following the contour of the cap and are often velvety to the touch. They are also considered polypores which refers to their lack of "spore bearing tissue continuous along the underside of the mushroom" (Wiki). Many polypores are shelf or "bracket" fungi, meaning that they lack a distinct stalk and will be found growing "shelf-like" on rotting trees.
Turkey Tail has the ability to support immune system function and has also been shown to have some ability in preventing the development of cancerous cells. A medicinal tea can be made by simmering these mushrooms for 20 minutes (a decoction). They can also simply be plucked from the tree and chewed raw while out for a hike. Why not increase your health in more ways than one? However, before making a medicinal brew of this shroom, make sure to connect with an expert forager and learn the basics of mushroom identification.
I invite any of my readers who know their mushrooms to please share their knowledge here on the blog in the comments section. There's so much to learn!