Clusters of leathery, thin brackets with multicolored zones above and whitish yellow pores below. Grows on stumps and logs of deciduous trees. Year-round. Cap semicircular to spoon-shaped, irregular, thin; zones of black-green, gray-blue, gray-brown, ochre-rust; texture leathery, with alternately hairy and smooth zones. Pores angular; whitish yellow. Stalk not present. Spore print white. Spores magnified are cylindrical, smooth. The bands of colors on the cap make the "true" turkey tail easy to recognize. The margin is always lightest in color.
Lookalikes: The false turkey tail (Stereum ostrea) is parchmentlike and has a smooth underside. The multicolor gill polypore (Lenzites betulina) has a gill-like underside.