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Offline_OttO_
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The hunt for the Himalayan Cordyceps * 3
    #10875000 - 08/17/09 11:56 AM (10 years, 10 months ago)

I want to share some photos with you guys from a recent life changing walk.

About three months ago my partner and I were trekking around the Himalayas in Nepal and happened to stumble across the harvest season for the local Cordyceps fungus that grows primarily between 4000 and 5000 metres above sea level.



Here is a link to some information on this specific Cordyceps, that the locals refer to as ‘yarcha gumba’ (Tibetan dialect) which means "winter worm, summer grass" (i.e., "worm in the winter, [turns to] plant in the summer") –

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_caterpillar_fungus

The locals make big bucks on the Chinese herbal medicine market with these and they are widely known in the area as having medicinal properties.

Every year hundreds of people pilgrim to many areas around the Himalayas to collect these, but in this particular ‘patch’ the locals confirmed around 800 individual pickers camped this year.

Here are the camps –

 

They have to pay a high price for a picking permit (by Nepal standards) and so have to make back their money on their permit before they can think to turn a profit, which is a lot of Cordyceps per camp. This is worrying the local villagers as they believe that over harvesting the Cordyceps will have a negative impact on the health of the Yaks that graze the area and are known to include Cordyceps in their diet. There are even Yak blood drinking rituals that run for 9 days during the Cordyceps season when the Yaks blood is supposed to be medicinal. Even so, the Chinese market is too strong offering a rumoured $4000US/kg for the fungus, which is more than most Nepali’s could earn in a lifetime.

Here are a few shots of the ‘patch’. One has to climb the steep rocky track to the spongy, barren grasslands just before the snowline. Base camp, which is situated BELOW the patch, is confirmed 4200 metres, so this patch is around 4600 metres above sea level!



This photo is same as above, zoomed in – you can see a local women picking.



And closer again – more hunters.



And from on the patch – lots of hunters. 10  minutes before I took this picture the clouds rolled in and obscured the views of the snow capped peaks in the background… :frown:



Looking back at the trekkers base camp across the valley (where we stayed, not the hunters camps) from the patch –



The patch again, shot from above the trekker’s base camp, on top of the rocks you can see in the above photo. You can also clearly recognise the path leading up to the patch, from the first ‘patch’ photo –



This was another location people were harvesting, slightly higher up a pretty dangerous track. You can see the patch at the bottom right of these pictures, very close to a large glacier –



Up close and personal with the hunters. Unlike hunting a normal mushroom, the caterpillar is actually buried and the ‘mushroom’ protruding from the ground is very difficult to see. They have to scour the ground at eye level and concentrate for hours to find any. On a good day of hunting they average between 2 to 20 specimens depending on how lucky/persistent they are –



A fresh specimen, still covered in earth –



A cleaned specimen –



This is back at a pilgrims camp site, showing off their harvest (I assume this is their total since they had laid camp) –



I bought two specimens from this lady as I wasn’t lucky enough to find any myself, and if anyone is interested to trade/buy them, feel free to shoot me a message.

Here are some random pics from the area. This is just a random puff ball I found in the patch –



On the way down the other side of the pass there was a lot of wild ganja. Here is a pic of it growing side by side with some wild Datura –



Sunrise in the Himalayas –



Loving the mountains –



I hope you enjoy the photos as much as we did.

:mushroom2:


Edited by _OttO_ (03/03/10 07:05 PM)


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OfflineHopanDubMan
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Re: The hunt for the Himalayan Cordyceps [Re: _OttO_]
    #10875046 - 08/17/09 12:10 PM (10 years, 10 months ago)

Wow, that is so amazing that you got to go chill up in the himalayas man!!

The pictures are beautiful
:smile:


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WakaWaka


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Offlineshroomgatherer
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Re: The hunt for the Himalayan Cordyceps [Re: _OttO_]
    #10875082 - 08/17/09 12:24 PM (10 years, 10 months ago)

Great pictures!    I'm amazed to see how little their total was.  I've heard about this particular Cordyceps fungus before.


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OfflineABC
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Re: The hunt for the Himalayan Cordyceps [Re: shroomgatherer]
    #10875235 - 08/17/09 01:01 PM (10 years, 10 months ago)

Wow, nice! are those fresh? i don't see many cultures of Cordyceps sinensis floating around... I heard they were pretty protected by their area/ exported C. sinensis are unculturable due to being treated with heat


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InvisibleSpeeker

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Re: The hunt for the Himalayan Cordyceps [Re: _OttO_]
    #10875238 - 08/17/09 01:02 PM (10 years, 10 months ago)

Interesting! Thanks for sharing! :thumbup:


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OfflineAlan RockefellerM
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Re: The hunt for the Himalayan Cordyceps [Re: _OttO_]
    #10875385 - 08/17/09 01:35 PM (10 years, 10 months ago)

Amazing photos and thread!  Probably the best one I have ever seen. 

Next time you visit consider bringing a sterile bag of agar dishes so you can clone some fresh material.  Maybe the dried ones you have would work though. 

Cordyceps militaris cultures are everywhere, but C. sinensis cultures are very well guarded.  It would be great if they were traded around here.


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Offlinebmarley3434
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Re: The hunt for the Himalayan Cordyceps [Re: Alan Rockefeller]
    #10875489 - 08/17/09 02:06 PM (10 years, 10 months ago)

amazing. it is a dream of mine to travel the himilayas. love your pics thanks for sharing!


--------------------
www.returntonature.us - wild foods blog


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Invisiblekoraks
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Re: The hunt for the Himalayan Cordyceps [Re: bmarley3434]
    #10875719 - 08/17/09 02:55 PM (10 years, 10 months ago)

Absolutely gorgeous. What did those two specimens cost you? Just out of curiosity, I'm not in the cultures business :wink:


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OfflineIcelandicSojourn
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Re: The hunt for the Himalayan Cordyceps [Re: koraks]
    #10876218 - 08/17/09 04:23 PM (10 years, 10 months ago)

Awesome post!  Learned something new.  Looks like a place I want to explore someday.


--------------------
Ne me parlez plus de politique
Je veux sauver ma vie    :peace:


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InvisibleBobzimmer
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Re: The hunt for the Himalayan Cordyceps [Re: IcelandicSojourn]
    #10877949 - 08/17/09 09:28 PM (10 years, 10 months ago)

Quote:

Amazing photos and thread!  Probably the best one I have ever seen. 




Indeed!:handth:


--------------------
Mr. Mushrooms said:
I will confess something that should be quite obvious, CC.  I love mushrooms, i.e. fungi.  I really do.  I am talking about a strong feeling, i.e. emotion, for them.  I think they are beautiful.  I even dream of them.


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Offlineweiliigod
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Re: The hunt for the Himalayan Cordyceps [Re: Bobzimmer]
    #10878117 - 08/17/09 09:52 PM (10 years, 10 months ago)

Indeed an awesome thread, not much more to say.... did you get some of that datura????  haha


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Re: The hunt for the Himalayan Cordyceps [Re: weiliigod]
    #10878225 - 08/17/09 10:08 PM (10 years, 10 months ago)

Quote:

Amazing photos and thread!  Probably the best one I have ever seen.



:tongue2::thumbup:

I'm amazed those caterpillars live in such a harsh environment.


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Invisiblekarode13M
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Re: The hunt for the Himalayan Cordyceps [Re: _OttO_]
    #10879645 - 08/18/09 01:35 AM (10 years, 10 months ago)

Great post Otto! Spectactular scenery and wild ganga to boot..:crazy2:


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Offlinezemullman
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Re: The hunt for the Himalayan Cordyceps [Re: karode13]
    #10879761 - 08/18/09 01:56 AM (10 years, 10 months ago)

wow!! Absolutely blown away by your thread Otto!! Thanks heaps for posting your adventures/photo's :smile::)


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InvisibleWorld Spirit
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Re: The hunt for the Himalayan Cordyceps [Re: _OttO_]
    #10879796 - 08/18/09 02:01 AM (10 years, 10 months ago)

Thanks for including us


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Offline_OttO_
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Re: The hunt for the Himalayan Cordyceps [Re: World Spirit]
    #10882033 - 08/18/09 01:22 PM (10 years, 10 months ago)

Incredible times, thanks for the responses!

Will respond properly as soon as I get a good 20 minutes to sit on the net.


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Offline_OttO_
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Re: The hunt for the Himalayan Cordyceps [Re: weiliigod]
    #10907450 - 08/21/09 10:13 PM (10 years, 10 months ago)

Ok guys, in answer to your questions!

Quote:

ABC said:
Wow, nice! are those fresh? i don't see many cultures of Cordyceps sinensis floating around... I heard they were pretty protected by their area/ exported C. sinensis are unculturable due to being treated with heat




They are fresh yes, sounds like a good prospect for the right hand then! I never knew they were so heavily protected...

Quote:

Alan Rockefeller said:
Amazing photos and thread!  Probably the best one I have ever seen. 

Next time you visit consider bringing a sterile bag of agar dishes so you can clone some fresh material.  Maybe the dried ones you have would work though. 

Cordyceps militaris cultures are everywhere, but C. sinensis cultures are very well guarded.  It would be great if they were traded around here.




Thanks Alan! That means a lot coming from you! I truly hope there is a next time, if so then for sure I will take some agar, great idea. Maybe we could organise a trip with a few shroomery members for a Nepalese hunt? :smile:

They will be traded here for sure.

Quote:

koraks said:
Absolutely gorgeous. What did those two specimens cost you? Just out of curiosity, I'm not in the cultures business :wink:




The locals sell them for, on average, 250 Nepalese Rupees per piece depending on the size of the caterpillar.

Quote:

weiliigod said:
Indeed an awesome thread, not much more to say.... did you get some of that datura????  haha




No, but plenty of the other one… :wink: Fresh, hand rolled mountain hash - black magic… :thumbup:

Won't be online much for the next few months, we are back on the road as of tomorrow, in case I don't reply to anyone's questions then at least you know why. Looking forward to getting back in touch with the community properly, until then, good luck on all your adventures!

Peace  :mushroom2:


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Invisiblecactu
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Re: The hunt for the Himalayan Cordyceps [Re: _OttO_]
    #10941145 - 08/26/09 02:07 PM (10 years, 10 months ago)

nice place and hunting
terrific otto


--------------------

cuando una rafaga del pensamiento nos pasa  al lado se puede sentir  que valio  la pena  haber vivido, y cuando ese pensamiento se  convierte en sueño no paramos de soñar hasta realizarlo


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Offlinetangoking
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Re: The hunt for the Himalayan Cordyceps [Re: _OttO_]
    #10941530 - 08/26/09 03:02 PM (10 years, 10 months ago)

Awesome post. Thanks for the pics!


--------------------
The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms said, "...the rule of thumb is to avoid any bolete with orange to red pores, especially any that bruises blue."
Lincoff, (1989). The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms (pp. 562). New York: Knopf.


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Offline_OttO_
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Re: The hunt for the Himalayan Cordyceps [Re: tangoking]
    #11056187 - 09/14/09 07:23 AM (10 years, 9 months ago)

Specimens still available for the right people if anyone is interested. :thumbup:


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