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cordyceps closeup





Common names

Caterpillar fungus, dong chong xia cao ('winter worm, summer grass' in Chinese).


Savoury, umami flavour and an earthy, nutty taste.


In soup or stir-fry, they can be poached and sautéed also, or served with pastas.

Size, texture & Color

1.5 to 2.5 cm long for the head and 2.5 to 8.5 for the stipe
Cylindrical shape, pointed.
Smooth and ridged texture.
Yellow to brown.
In the wild, the stipe if attached to mummified caterpillar and other bugs.

Health benefits

Used extensively in Asia to improve energy, vitality and athletic performance. Also called Himalayan viagra, it is used as an aphrodisiac.
Research suggests cordyceps is one of several kinds of fungi that have anti-breast cancer activity.

History and culture

One of the most valuable Chinese traditional medicines is Cordyceps Sinensis, which grows largely at high altitudes on the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau in south-western China. Cordyceps was traditionally used in Traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicine to improve energy and sleep patterns, as well as to improve appetite and stamina.

Cordyceps Sinensis has a rich medicinal history in Asia. Growing demand and shrinking supply makes it the world’s most expensive parasite – it is worth more than gold. Families near the Himalayan mountain ranges uproot their lives in May and June to forage for it. Foraging this mushroom is an important livelihood for hundreds of thousands of people.

This mushroom’s base begins with an insect larval host (Hepialis armoricanus family- Hepialidac) and ends with the club-like cap, which includes the stipe and stroma. The fruit body is dark brown to black in colour, while the organism’s root, the larval body penetrated by mycelium, is yellowish to brown in colour. The young larval (host) on which the Cordyceps (parasite) grows is usually few centimeters beneath the ground surface. As the fungus matures, it consumes more than 90% of the afflicted insect, effectively mummifying the victim.

Cordyceps mushroom gained popularity after a group of female athletes broke nine world records at the 1993 Chinese National Games. After winning, the women said that they were taking cordyceps on a regular basis. This generated research in the mushroom’s ability to increase energy.

cordyceps militaris growing

Growing infos.

Incubation & fruiting temperature

Incubation at 20-24°C - Fruiting best at 20 °C

Preffered substrate

Brown rice.

Innoculation to fruiting time

3 weeks in incubation, add up 4-6 weeks for the fruiting body to reach maturity.

Yield & number of flushes

Moderate. 1 flush.


Cordyceps Militaris strain is pretty easy to grow.