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Be sha - Matsutake - Tricholoma matsutake
In Tibet there are many names for matsutake or Pine mushroom. One of the most common is "beshing shamo" or just short "be sha", the oak mushroom, clearly indicating its symbiotic partnership with evergreen oaks on the slopes of the Tibetan Plateau.
It's common Chinese name is "songrong" , "song" referring to the pine tree. In lower elevations in China it is associated with pines.
Penba wearing a big smile picking a matsutake under an evergreen oak shrub. If it wasn't for constant coppice management these oaks would grow into trees. Although these oaks are kept so small, it still allows for ectomycorrhizal symbiosis with matsutake.
© Daniel Winkler, July 28, 2007, Chatreng County (Xiangcheng Xian), 3550m, Kandze (Ganzi, Garze) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, W-Sichuan.
To the right: Drolma and her sons Penba and Dawa encountered during their daily matsutake hunt in Chatreng County (Xiangcheng Xian), 3550m, Ganzi TAP, W-Sichuan. © Daniel Winkler, July 28, 2007.
Link to Matsutake Hunt photos in Kongpo Summer 2010
A matsutake dealer on his motorbike is visiting collection camps to buy up product to resell in the county town.
Chatreng County (Xiangcheng Xian), 3550m, Ganzi TAP, W-Sichuan.
© Daniel Winkler, July 28, 2007.
Local collectors are selling their day's hunt to a matsutake buyer on the road below the oak forests. Many of these dealers have Beijing Jeeps and daily cruise the roads in Matsutake growing areas. The mushrooms are taken to the County towns the same day, where they are bought up to be taken to the next airport, especially Zhongdian and Chengdu, for export to Japan. Many county towns now have cooling facilities. For some more background info seeMatsutake Conservation and Sustainable Development Paper 2000.
© Daniel Winkler August 3, 2001, Litang County, Ganzi TAP, W-Sichuan.
A Matsutake dealer holding up a big specimen. However, it is the small mushroom 'buds' that fetch the highest prize. Fresh matsutake mushrooms are collected all over the Tibetan areas, where evergreen oak forest are present. Nowadays, matsutake is the main source of cash income for locals in these areas. Whole areas are taken by a fungal frenzy in July and August.
A Tibetan painting placing "besha" (=matsutake or pine mushroom) surrounded by auspicious fish, wishfullfilling jewel and trees in the center on a "lotus throne". The lotus is the typical seat for a Buddha or Boddhisattva.
9-22-2000, Pundadrong / Yajiang Town, Nyagchuka / Yajiang County, Ganzi TAP, Sichuan. Daniel Winkler
A matsutake buyer is sorting specimen. Mushroom prices vary strongly according to quality. Japanese consumers prefer small mushroom 'buds' with unopened partial veil. Has the veil already ripped it is a lower class. The lowest class are fully mature mushrooms, only to be outdone by wormy specimen.
© Daniel Winkler, August 4, 2007, 2900m, Pundadrong / Yajiang Town, Nyachuka / Yajiang County, Ganzi TAP, W-Sichuan.
Drying Tricholoma matsutake (Pine mushroom) in Dabba (Daocheng) Town. Interestingly many Tibetans are not that fond of matsutake. It was not a commonly eaten mushroom. Many times I have been told that Tibetans don't understand why anyone would pay that much money for a mushroom that has such foul odor.
© Daniel Winkler September 2000, 3800m, Dabpa/Daocheng County, Ganzi TAP, W-Sichuan
Matsutakemushrooms (Tricholoma matsutake) are collected in July and August. "Everybody that can walk," as I was told in Litang County, collectsmatsutake. Camp is set up on the precinct of a former saw mill given up after the 1998 logging ban. Some of the pickers are from other areas in Litang County, some come from neighboring counties.
© Daniel WinklerJuly 31, 2001, Litang County, Ganzi TAP, W-Sichuan.