Saturday, 6 November 2010

Fungi Gold/Yarsagumba

In an article in the 'New Internationalist' magazine,  a type of fungi that infects insects, called a cordycep is big business in Nepal and in far eastern countries.
It has been for centuries considered an aphrodisiac, but now it really makes serious money and it's value has become the motive for committing murder.
The particular cordycep fungi attacks caterpillars but I don't know which exact species but it's locally called 'Yarsagumba'.

Cordyceps can be found in every county attacking every type of insect and the 'caterpillar fungus' can also be found here in the U.K. too.
In Nepal and China the fungi is considered to be an aphrodisiac and is valued highly. The actual aphrodisiac qualities are quite real as serious medical research has proven. So what started as a myth is medicinally true and as a result the demand has driven local economics into something greater but potentially more damaging ecologically.
The demand has meant that cordyceps per gram are now worth more than it's weight in gold.
Like Porcini,  truffles and chanterelles, these cordycep fungi cannot be created on mass production because the habitats cannot be artificially recreated.
My worry is simple, over picking to destroy the source for economic desires..just another natural market to be plumbed..and potentially ruined.

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