Trametes versicolor

PLANT NAME: Trametes versicolor.

OTHER NAMES: Boletus versicolor, Coriolus versicolor, Coriolus zonztus, Polyporus versicolor, Polystictus versicolor.

COMMON NAMES: Yun zhi (“cloud mushroom”) [China]; turkey tails [English]; kawaratake (“mushroom by the river”) [Japan].

NOMENCLATURE: The word “Trametes” means skinny, and “versicolor” means multi-colored.

FAMILY: Polyporaceae.

CATEGORY: Tonify qi ~.

PROPERTIES: Sweet and slightly warm.

PLANT PART USED: Fruiting body

RANGE: Asia, North America, and Europe.

HABITAT: Likes it wet and shady. Often seen growing on rotting Aleurites moluccana (kukui) logs in Hawai’i.


  • PSK and chemotherapy increased survival rates in colonrectal cancer [Torisu 1990, Mitomi 1992], gastric cancer [Nakazato 1994], and leukemia [Nagao 1981] as compared to chemotherapy alone. Proper administration of PSK reduces the incidence of metastatic tumors in lab animals [Ebina 1989]. This may be through the modulation of immune response [Habelhah 1998(a), 1998(b); Matsunaga 1986; Oguchi 1986] and in conjunction with IL-2 [Sakamaki 1992]. It is directly mediated through the lymphatic system [Ebina 1989]. PSK decreases oxidative stress [Kobayashi 1994], boosts NK (natural killer) activity in rats [Kobayashi 1993] and induces interferon in mice at up to eight times the levels of controls [Li 1990].

  • PSP (Polysaccharide-Peptide) has significantly extended five-year cancer survival and increased quality of life in double blind trials [Kidd 2000].

  • Ethanol extracts of Trametes may reduce androgen sensitive prostate cancer cells and PSA levels [Hsieh 2001].

  • PSK is anti fungal against Candida albicans in mice, probably through the boosting of immune function [Ohmura 2003].

  • PSK boosts antiviral and antibacterial immunity in tumor bearing mice [Taniguchi 1984; Tsuru 1984(a), 1984(b)].

  • Trametes spp. may be liver protective [Farghali 1998].

  • Potent inhibitor of recombinant HIV-1 reverse transcriptase [Collins 1997].

  • Analgesic in mice [Ng 1997].

TOXICITY: Very safe. The reported oral LD5O of PSP is 10.0 gm / kg.



  • In 1987, Japan spent 25% of its’ national expenditure of anti cancer medication on PSK.

  • Trametes versicolor is the most common species of the family Polyporaceae and one of the most beautiful medicines in the Hawaiian forest. I have seen huge kukui trees, like fallen warriors, reincarnating into hundreds of these marvelous fungi. Sometimes I am so impressed by their beauty that I am unwilling to harvest them and will search for more humble specimens. Dry and rubbery to the touch, they are a powerful addition to any herbal pharmacy.