KILDARE WILDLIFE WATCH: Turkey-tailed fungi used in cancer trials

Bog of Allen Nature Centre

KILDARE WILDLIFE WATCH: Turkey-tailed fungi used in cancer trials

The turkey-tailed fungi

Rotting wood is an amazing habitat to have in any community — you can

create one of these habitats by putting in place a log pile built from fallen branches or cuttings from local trees that required maintenance.

One of the most popular means of creating these habitats is in the form of a ‘bug hotel’.

These can be made from unwanted pallets stacked on top of each other with the spaces filled with wood, mosses and leaves creating a dark and damp environment for fungi, lichens and a vareity of invertebrates. This week in the wildlife gardens of the Bog of Allen Nature Centre my colleague identified one of the common fungi you might come across on rotting wood in your local area — turkey-tailed fungi.

This particular fungi gets its name as its colours and pattern appear to look like that of a wild turkeys tail! The cap of this fungi is flat, circular and it appears to grow in a layered or tiered affect on the rotting wood.

The colours on its cap can be light brown to dark brown and green. Like all fungi this fruiting body that we see on the rotting wood is only a small portion of a network of ‘hyphae’, long branching filaments that allow for vegetative growth – together this network of hyphae are known as mycelium.

When reading about this particular fungi I discovered that it has been used in clinical trials for the treatment of breast cancer, liver cancer and luekemias, however the article also noted that the results of same were inconclusive. I also read that this particular fungi has been used in traditional medicines as it is said to have immune boosting properties.

Turkey-tailed fungi is often found growing on the rotting branches of beech and ash — can you find it in your local area this week? If you do find turkey-tailed fungi in your local area remember I never recommend you pick and eat any species from the wild.

If you would like to suggest a species to focus on for ‘Wildlife Watch’ contact the Bog of Allen Nature Centre on 045 860133 or email

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