Entomophagous fungi of Tibet: where no arthropod is safe!

Aug.18,2004. M.Sekine

The Tibetan plateau is the one of the most landlocked regions of the world with four of the world's highest mountains straddling its borders. In other words, it is the roof of the roof of the world. Do you know of entomophagous fungus, Cordyceps sinensis? It's actually a form of fungus which grows naturally on the backs of caterpillars found only in southwestern China, Nepal and Tibet, in locations over 3,500 meters. Tradition says that in winter it might be an insect and metamorphose into grass in summer. This "grass" actually is a parasitic fungus, which invades the body of caterpillars and eats their soft tissue. The "grass" is part of the fruit body of the mushroom. Both the parasitic grass parts and their hosts are used as herbs. I visited Lhasa city this summer vacation, and I took pictures of the entomophagous fungi of Tibet. What a fantastic shape!! According to the local people, this herb is supposed to be good for everything. The story may or may not be true, but it sounds true.
Codyceps sinensis