Talking Turkey (Plants)



by Karen Menard

What towers overhead in the nearest Metropark prairie, gracefully sways in the breeze and resembles a turkey’s foot?  “Turkeyfoot” grass. The dried seed heads of big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) also known as “turkeyfoot,” splay out just like the toes of a turkey and can easily be spotted in November—just in time for Thanksgiving.

“Turkeyfoot” is a warm season, fire adapted grass with deep roots, and was the tallest and the most dominant species thriving in historic tallgrass prairie ecosystems. Its foliage is valuable forage for mammals including cattle and bison. As a host plant for many beneficial insects, as well as some locally uncommon skipper butterflies, this plant is considered to be of high ecological value. Find it at Oak Openings Preserve, Wildwood Preserve, Side Cut, Swan Creek Preserve and Secor.

Now that you’ll be on the lookout for “turkey feet” in the November prairie, you can also find “turkeytail” in the woodlands all winter into spring. “Turkeytail” (Trametes versicolor) is the common name of a disc-like, leathery, stalkless mushroom that grows on rotting wood.

The species name, “versicolor” means of several colors and refers to the way color is layered in bands similar to the way an actual turkey tail appears.

True turkeytail fungus will have a light colored outer margin and won’t have gills to release its spores—only pores. It’s often found growing in layers or groups of rows on logs and stumps of deciduous trees.

Considered a decomposer, this fungi is important to our ecosystems in that it is able to break down plant matter in order to recycle minerals and nutrients over lengths of time, making them more available to other forest organisms.

fugi for web.jpg

Can’t find an actual wild turkey strutting along a Metropark trail on the day of your hike? Consider checking the nearest prairie or woodland for an interesting glimpse of some natural likenesses like turkeyfoot grass or turkeytail mushrooms to highlight the end of November!


Photos: (Top) big bluestem at Blue Creek Metropark, by Art Weber; (below) turkeytail fungus at Fallen Timbers Battlefield, by Karen Menard

wholesale air max|cheap air jordans|pompy wtryskowe|cheap huarache shoes| bombas inyeccion|cheap jordans|cheap sneakers|wholesale jordans|cheap china jordans|cheap wholesale jordans|cheap jordans|wholesale jewelry china