At our school, we have a really nice guard, who has travelled the world, worked in so many professions and is really interested in plants. Around 10 years ago, he decided to settle down in Pokhara and since than takes care of the security of the school. It is always nice to have a chat with him and from time to time he comes with some plants he likes to show us and tells us their medical purposes.
A while ago, he told us about this 'animal-plant' and we couldn't really believe it. According to him, it grows high up in the mountains and at the beginning it is a
caterpillar and than suddenly it turns into a plant. People would pay a lot of money to get this plant because when you eat it, you would become really strong. Well, a nice fairy story, we thought! Quite curious, we researched a bit in the internet and actually, we found such a animal plant!!
It is also called caterpillar fungus and it is a fungus that parasitizes the larvae of a moth.
We than also remembered that years ago, there was an article about this fungus in the magazine "National Geographic". When we are back in Europe, we really need to dig out this story. It's so fascinating!
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Caterpillar fungus)
|Ophiocordyceps sinensis (left) growing out of the head of a dead caterpillar|
(Berk.) G.H.Sung, J.M.Sung, Hywel-Jones & Spatafora (2007)
|Sphaeria sinensis Berk. (1843)|
Cordyceps sinensis (Berk.) Sacc. (1878)
Ophiocordyceps sinensis is a fungus that parasitizes larvae of ghost moths and produces a fruiting body valued as an herbal remedy. The fungus germinates in the living larva, kills and mummifies it, and then the stalk-like fruiting body emerges from the corpse. It is known in English colloquially as caterpillar fungus, or by its more prominent foreign names (see below): yartsa gunbu or yatsa gunbu (Tibetan), or Dōng chóng xià cǎo (Chinese: 冬虫夏草; literally "winter worm, summer grass").
The moths in which O. sinensis grows are ambiguously referred to as "ghost moth", which identifies either a single species or the genus Thitarodes, and the species parasitized by O. sinensis may be one of several Thitarodes that live on the Tibetan Plateau (Tibet, Qinghai, West-Sichuan, SW-Gansu & NW Yunnan), and the Himalayas (India, Nepal, Bhutan).
O. sinensis is known in the West as a medicinal mushroom, and its use has a long history in Traditional Chinese medicine as well as Traditional Tibetan medicine.The hand-collected fungus-caterpillar combination is valued by herbalists and as a status symbol; it is used as an aphrodisiac and treatment for ailments such as fatigue and cancer, although such use is mainly based on traditional Chinese medicine and anecdote. Recent research however seems to indicate a variety of beneficial effects in animal testing, including increased physical endurance through heightened ATP production in rats.