cordyceps's blog

Ophiocordyceps yakushimensis found in Hachijo Jima, Japan

 In early August 2016 I went to Hachijo Jima, an island about 300 km South of Tokyo to look for bio-luminescent fungi. During the day I was hoping to find some Cordyceps. There were not too many fungi fruiting any more. We were told mushrooms are more abundant in June and early July, in the early phase of the summer monsoon. Every time we went looking for mushrooms I found one or two specimens of Ophiocordyceps yakushimensis right in the beginning and then no more Cordyceps for the rest of the day. However, the specimens we found were very interesting for several reasons I'll show below. 

Ophiocordyceps yakushimensis Hachijo Jima
Ophiocordyceps yakushimensis is a cicadae parasitizing cordyceps. Note both specimens have secondary white fruitings. 
While the fresher specimen on the left has initial growth of an anamorph out of the head of the cicada nymph,
the older specimen on the right has some other kind of white fruiting fungus on the broken off, decaying stroma (more details on the enlargements below).

Ophiocordyceps_yakushimensis Cicadae
Out of the top of the head of the cicada nymph grows the teleomorph, the white anamorph structures seem to grow out of several places around the head and thorax.
Note the cavity, in which I found the parasitized nymph.

Cordyceps yakushimensis with anamorph
Mature fruiting bodies of Ophiocordyceps yakushimensis with an anamorph on the base. 

The cicada nymph host and the parasitizing Ophiocordyceps yakushimensis-teleomorph/anamorph fungus complex presented on a leaf.

The anamorph of Ophicordyceps yakushimensis growing out of the base of the teleomorph of O. yakushimensis.
If I understand Shigeo Ootake correctly, in other locations in Japan, where this Cordyceps is found, the anamorph does not develop as nicely as in Hachijo Jima .
If you like to see ascospores, conidia etc. of O. yakushimensis check the very interesting blog entry of out Shigeo Ootake-San.

An over-mature stroma of Ophiocordyceps yakushimensis with a white fruiting that looks like a secondary parasite to me.

Ophiocordyceps yakushimensis parasite
Close up of the rotting and heavily parasitized stroma (If you should have an idea what I found, please let me know).

This is how I found the two cordyceps. On the left clearly a mature stroma, but I was not clear what this growth represented on the right. However, once dug out it was clear it was the broken-off stroma of another Cordyceps (see 1st image). The white tissue looks like the parasitic structures shown above, but the yellow cap like structure is confusing, the more when taking into account there is also yellow tissue on the broken off stroma.  (As stated above, if you should have an idea what is going on, please let me know)

Isaria tenuipes Hachijo Jima

Probably an Isaria tenuipes (= I. japonica), which would be the anamorph of Cordyceps takaomontana. Interestingly, it was suspended in the air.


Lithocarpus_sieboldii forest Hachijo Jima
Forest dominated by Lithocarpus sieboldii, a member of the beech family (Fagaceae), which also includes oaks (Quercus spp.)


Another awesome find in Japan, I love it!:

An Illustrated Guide to Ecology of Japanese Cordyceps

An Illustrated Guide to Ecology of Japanese Cordyceps
303 pages (95% color page), 25.6 x 19.3cm (10.2 x 7.7 in)
Published by the Japanese Cordyceps Society, 2014 (in Japanese)

Mycena chlorphos Hachijo Jima
Mycena chlorophos, a bioluminescent mushroom. I went to the island to find these gorgeous mushrooms.
The photo is taken in the dark with a tiny bit of light from a flash light, which produced the purplish hue. The bio-luminescent light emitted is greenish.
Sorry there are no bio-luminescent Cordyceps fungi!
Much more on the subject and many more images can be seen on my Mushroaming blog.

Acknowledgements: Special thanks to my friend Ikuko Okuyama who helped me make my dream come true.



Last edited Thu, 12/15/2016 - 17:51

Dr Tatiana Sanjuan presenting in Seattle

Revealing the Hidden Diversity in Parasitic Cordyceps Fungi and their Host Association with Insects & Spiders in the Neotropics, 

PSMS Monthly Meeting, Tuesday June 14, 7:30pm - Doors open at 6:30 pm at the Center for Urban Horticulture (directions).

Cordyceps are bizarre club fungi which parasitize a wide range of insects and spiders as well as false truffles. In the neotropical rainforest many display bright and vibrant colored fruiting bodies emerging from the leaf litter or decaying logs. Others are hidden away, attached to the underside of leaves. For understanding Cordyceps it is crucial to uncover and identify the host. Most of Cordyceps' life cycle takes place inside the host. After infection the fungus manipulates arthropod behavior, basically creating a zombie that moves to a location to die for optimal spore dispersion so the next victim is easily reached. This has recently been proven in the case of carpenter ants in Thailand and such behavior was also observed by some Amazonian Indians in crickets, beetles and even spiders since ancient times. Hearing those stories from her Colombian professor who had traveled with the famous American ethno-botanist Richard Schultes through Colombian jungles arose her interest in studying Cordyceps and its relationship with its host insects. For almost twenty years she has traveled across the jungles of Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil collecting, identifying and describing new species of Cordyceps. In this talk she will share with us the diversity of neotropical Cordyceps and fascinating indigenous stories regarding Cordyceps and its relationship with insects and spiders and analyzing these folk stories in the light of the scientific theories.


Tatiana Sanjuan holds a PhD in Biology from Antioquia University in Medellin, Colombia. For almost 20 years her research has focused on the entomopathogenic fungus Cordyceps s.l. in the Amazon and other tropical rainforests. She started her research when she learned of the indigenous Amazonian myth about zombie bullet ants, the liana called "Yare" and Cordyceps. In her postgraduate research she published 5 articles describing 8 new species of Cordyceps s.l. from the Amazon and their relationships with their respective hosts. Currently she is working on the pharmaceutical potential of a new species of Cordyceps which parasitizes Tarantula spiders.


Tatiana is also planning on giving a talk in Vancouver BC at UBC on Friday evening, June 17.

Some of Tatiana's newly described species I encountered in South America

Cordyceps acridophila T. Sanjuan & A. E. Franco-Molano, Mycologia 106 (2): 268 (2014), a grasshopper parasite we found in February 2012 in Madidi National Park, Bolivia in 250 m asl.

 Ophiocordyceps evansii

Ophiocordyceps evansii, a new species parasitizing neotropical Pachycondyla ants recognizable by its capitate stroma with erumpent ostioles. Specimen depicted found in Leticia, Colombian Amazon, April 16, 2016 in 75m asl. Reference: Sanjuan, T. I., Franco-Molano, A. E., Kepler, R. M., Spatafora, J. W., Tabima, J., Vasco-Palacios, A. M., & Restrepo, S. (2015). Five new species of entomopathogenic fungi from the Amazon and evolution of neotropical Ophiocordyceps. Fungal Biology, 119(10), 901-916.


Ophiocordyceps tiputini sp. nov. with yellow ascomata and branched blackish stroma on Megaloptera larva. Found in Mashaquipe, Madidi National Park, Boloivian Amazon, Feb. 2013.

Ophiocordyceps tiputini, same specimen as above


Last edited Fri, 12/09/2016 - 20:22

Appalachian Cordyceps September 2015


During the 2015 NAMA Foray in late September in Asheville, North Carolina, I ran into some nice Cordyceps specimens although the forests were quite parched. I was lucky that Todd Elliott showed me around and his friend Armin Weise took me to a forest that had above average moisture and we found 7 Cordyceps specimens of 3 different species within an hour! Included are a few more Cordyceps specimens from South Carolina a few days earlier I found with Tradd and Olga Cotter from Mushroom Mountain. I also uploaded my favorite photos of "regular" mushrooms from that trip on my Mushroaming blog.  

Most common was Ophiocordyceps sphecocephala, the Wasp Cordyceps

Fruiting body of Ophiocordyceps sphecocephala growing from between leaves on the ground. Luckily it is bright yellow. If the stroma was brown, it would be next to impossible to find this elusive tiny fungi.

Ophiocordyceps sphecocephala Asheville NC
Here the carefully dug out insect-fungus complex. The stroma is so long since the leaf litter was so deep.

Ophiocordyceps sphecocephala wasp Asheville NC
Close up of the dead wasp. Inside is only mycelium of Ophiocordyceps sphecocephala left. The fungus probably leaves the exoskeleton in good shape to protect itself from other parasites while digesting the wasp.

A somewhat battered Scarlet Caterpillarclub - Cordyceps militaris.

It seems like something broke the immature stroma and thus the perithecia only developed in non-impacted areas.

Cordyceps tuberculata Asheville 
The anamorph of Cordyceps tuberculata, formerly known as
 Akanthomyces pistillariformis. C. tuberculata and A. pistillariformis are the same organism, but manifesting different reproductive pathways. C. tuberculata reproduces sexually forming proper spores, Akanthomyces pistillariformis reproduces asexually through conidiospores. Since a couple of years the taxonomic rules have changed and now the two forms must have the same name.

The stroma of Elaphocordyceps capitata, recently renamed to Tolypocladium capitata. 

The dug out Elaphocordyceps capitata, recently renamed to Tolypocladium capitata growing from a deer truffle (Elaphomyces sp.)

Some entomophagous fungus, could be anything from a 
Beauveria to a Paecilomyces seen near Asheville.

Ophiocordyceps stylophora is a tiny Cordyceps that is easily overseen. Todd Elliot, an expert on Southeastern North American Cordyceps, showed me this specimen in his backyard. Todd thinks it is very under reported, primarily because of its small size, dull color, and infrequent maturation.

Ophiocordyceps stylophora
The same immature Ophiocordyceps stylophora dug out. It's stroma is growing out of a tiny coleopteran larva.

And another entomophagous fungus found near Asheville. It could be an anamorph, but the more yellow tissue in the middle could be part of maturing perithecia.

Armin Weise Asheville
Armin Weise taking pictures of a Cordyceps in the woods near Asheville NC.

Before the NAMA foray I visited with Olga & Tradd Cotter of Mushroom Mountain 

An Isaria sp., a Cordyceps anamorph growing from a pupa seen in Isaqueena SC

Ophiocordyceps unilateralis group, a long dead, fungally parasitized Zombie ant in Tradd and Olga Cotter's backyard.

Podostroma alutaceum SC
I was all excited seeing a new species of Cordyceps, but alas no insect on the base, just mycelium in wood, thus no Cordyceps and probably Podostroma alutaceum.

Other fungal highlights from the Carolinas trip as this stinkhorn below  are published on my Mushroaming blog.

Pseudocolus fusiformis Asheville NC
Pseudocolus fusiformis, an 
introduced stinkhorn gone wild in Eastern North America,  Asheville NC.

Last edited Tue, 03/01/2016 - 13:08

Arsenic in wild Cordyceps products?

An interesting news bit that suggests Ophiocordyceps sinensis products made from wild crafted Yartsa gunbu have an high arsenic concentration. This is only a news report and I hav enot seen the original research. 
Definitely an issue that needs some following up. 

Highly prized ‘caterpillar fungus’ declared a danger to health by China’s FDA

by Alice Yan - South China Morning Post - Feb. 5, 2016

Products derived from rare ingredient from Tibet found to contain up to 10 times the national limit of arsenic, officials say. 

Cordyceps, or caterpillar fungus, one of the most sought-after and expensive ingredients in traditional Chinese medicine, has been deemed a danger to human health by China’s main food and drug regulator, mainland media report. A recent examination by the State Food and Drug Administration showed that products derived from the fungus, such as powders and tablets, contain excessive arsenic, reports. The national standard limit for the toxic chemical is 1 milligram per kilogram, but the level found in the supplements ranged from 4.4-9.9mg/kg. Consuming the products over a long period increased the risk of the element, a common poison, accumulating in the body, the authority said. Cordyceps are the fruiting bodies formed after fungus parasitizes the larvae of ghost moths found in mountainous regions of Tibet and Nepal. They make expensive gifts, often given to old people, and are believed to strengthen a person’s immunity system and restrain the development of cancer cells.

Last edited Fri, 02/05/2016 - 16:39

Cordyceps found in Colombia in April 2015

Below the images of Cordyceps and allies we encountered during the April 2015 Mushroaming Colombia tour. 
Special thanks to our expert Colombian guide Dr. Tatiana Sanjuan, a specialist on neotropical Cordyceps.

Link to the 2017 Colombia Mushroaming tour

A Cordyceps species close to Cordyceps militaris. This Cordyceps grew over 50 stromata (=fruiting bodies) out of this giant beetle larva (10cm+) seen in Rio Claro, Antioquia, Colombia.

Moelleriella sp. teleomorph. Its anamorph looks similar to an Aschersonia (see below). Moelleriella is an entomophagous fungi in the Clavacipitaceae family, famous for containing ergot, Claviceps purpurea. Moelleriella spp. are pathogens of scale-insects and white-flies (incl. aphids). Here it grows its fruiting body right around the devoured insect.  A detailed paper on Moelleriella and associates can be found here.

Aschersonia sp Colombia
Aschersonia sp. is another entomophagous fungus that is feeding on tiny Hemiptera insects, like aphids and leaf hoppers. 

Aschersonia sp
A close up of another Aschersonia speciesUsing DNA sequencing it turns out some Aschersonia species are the anamorph of Moelleriella, some of Hypocrella, something that needs to be straightened out. 

The long-dead Ophiocordyceps unilateralis gr. fruiting body growing out of the Zombie ant is already grown over by an algae. 

A much fresher Zombie ant (Ophiocordyceps unilateralis gr.) in its last resting position. The cordyceps infected the ant and made it climb up to the end of a palm frond where it makes the ant bite into the frond tip. Then the fungus dissolves the tissue that would normally open the mandible of the ant, thus the ant is well secured in this exposed location. At this point the fungus having abused all kinds of ant behavioral patterns for its own agenda finally kills its "host". Now the fungus will start to grow its fruiting body digesting the ant as its source of nutrients and finally producing spores to be spread from this perfect elevated location to hopefully land on the next unsuspecting ant. Seen in Rio Claro, an awesome marble gorge that is very rich in Cordyceps diversity.

Link to the 2017 Colombia Mushroaming tour 

Ophiocordyceps amazonica growing from a Bogotacris sp. grasshopper of the Orthoptera order in Rio Claro, Colombia

Ophiocordyceps amazonica Rio Claro, Colombia

The capitate fertile head of an Ophiocordyceps amazonica seen in Rio Claro, Colombia

Lateral view of the fertile head of an Ophiocordyceps amazonica.

Probably a Polycephalomyces sp. in Rio Claro, Colombia

Same Polycephalomyces sp. in Rio Claro Colombia

Cordyceps tuberculata fruiting on a Saturnidae moth in Rio Claro. The yellow tissue are the perithecia in which the spores are produced. The anamorph of C. tuberculata is Akanthomyces pistillariformis.This is predominately teleomorph form, but the few white longish structures should be the synnemata of the anamorph.

Evlachovaea sp. also known as Isaria sp. is an anamorph. We found a dozen in Parque Arví above Medellin in around 2600m. 

Don’t get caught with mushrooms or plants growing in your gutters. LeafFilter can help.

A tiny Cordyceps, maybe Cordyceps submilitaris, but we are not sure.

Overmature fruiting bodies of Cordyceps nidus coming out of the lid of a trapdoor spider hide-out. That spider is not opening that trap door again, but the wicked fungus is shifting the spider biomass above ground in its pursue of reproduction.

Two ants killed by Ophiocordyceps unilateralis group closely embracing each other. 

Maybe an Ophiocordyceps growing from a buried cicada larva, which I was not able to excavate. 

Isaria tenuipes – Cordyceps anamorph buried in wood
Isaria tenuipes, a Cordyceps anamorph we found buried in wood.

Podostroma, the "bane" of every Cordyceps hunter. The fruiting bodies just look like a regular Cordyceps, but Podostroma do not parasitize insects, but decay wood. The genus Podostroma contains about a dozen widely spread species. They are related to Cordyceps, they are in the order Hypocreales, to which also Cordycipitaceae and Ophiocordycipitaceae belong. However, latest taxonomic reviews placed Podostroma in the genus Hypocrea, with anamorphs known as Trichoderma spp.. Alas, due to changes with in the code of nomenclature, the genus Trichoderma has been proposed for conservation over its teleomorph Hypocrea, thus this Podostroma is now referred to as a Trichoderma.[5]

Link to the 2017 Colombia Mushroaming tour


Last edited Sat, 07/01/2017 - 12:29

Cordyceps & Morel Tour in East Tibet 2015

Subtitled photo series showing Caterpillar Fungus (Ophiocordyceps sinensis, Yartsa gunbu) collection and trade in Kham, East Tibet, currently administrated as Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture from May 23 to June 3. Also included a bit on the morels we found. Many more and diverse images are shown in my photo gallery.

Link to the 2017 Cordyceps & Morel Expedition May 30 to June 10

Lhamo ready to dig a Yartsa gunbu, "summer grass, winter worm" as Tibetans know the insect-fungus complex.

Bu searching ladies leaving their hunting grounds near Lithang in 4300m / 13,300 ft.

Searching caterpillar fungus in 4000m in Garze (= Ganzi / Kandze) County. Stefania is equipped with a typical "bu" hoe.

Ophiocordyceps_sinensis, Yartsa gunbu in ground, in situ
Ophiocordyceps sinensis still in the ground. The ghost moth larva (Thitarodes sp.) is still encapsulated by the mycelium mesh that takes up moisture and possibly nutrients form the surrounding.

"Bu", as Tibetans refer colloquially brief to Yartsa gunbu needs to be cleaned once dried. The mycelium coating the larva needs to be removed. When dry the peeling is much easier.

Yartsa gunbu market in Ganzi town. Still uncleaned caterpillar fungi are lying on the table. When still uncleaned Yartsa gunbu is priced by piece, weighing does not work due to soil coating that is held together by mycelial hyphae. However, in this stage the moisture content is still high and the larva will have shrunk when fully dried. Thus a lot of experience is necessary to negotiate a good price when buying fresh or partially dried caterpillar fungus.

Cornelia buying Yartsa gunbu from Minyak ladies in Dartsendo / Kangding. These ladies were very firm in their price and selection process: no cherry picking, just pick a handful!

Fully cleaned, sorted by size and tied together to sell in these attractive bundles.

Near Dranggo / Luhuo we drove up an old logging road to a spruce forest were the first morels were fruiting. In Tibetan morels are known as "Khukhu Shamo", the "cuckoo mushroom", since they appear around the same time the beloved cuckoo bird returns to the Highlands from India. I have made a webpage on morels in Tibet, and also written several papers on the ethnomycology of morels and the commercial collection in the Tibetan areas. Here the links to my papers : Morels in Eastern Tibet 2010  and  The Return of the Cuckoo or Morels in Tibet 2007

Here an assembly of the still youngish morels. We loved their coloration!

The blade shows centimeters for scale. Hopefully we will get DNA on these specimens, there has been a lot of recent work on Morchella in China, the link will take you a free download of Du et al. 2012. Multigene molecular phylogenetics reveals true morels (Morchella) are especially species-rich in China. 

Our morels partially sliced up before cooking! Unfortunately the way the restaurant prepared them did not impress us, they were hardly fried, so we send them back to be on the safe side and they still came back in a very liquid, broth-like sauce.

Tibetan medicine plants market
A Tibetan lady selling dome of the favorite Tibetan medicinals at the market in Dranggo, where out of around 50 booths only 2 or 3 were run by local Tibetan merchants.
From left to right Rheum root, above on the newspaper Yartsa gunbu, next to it three kinds of longish medicinal roots, on the bottom center Rhodiola / Rose Root, full center dried. Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) often used as a cheap saffron replacement in Tibet, back center Saussurea medusa, known in China as Xue lian hua (Snow lotus), and lower left rhizomes of Gastrodia elata, an orchid known in TCM as Tianma, heaven's hemp. 

kawalungri mountain
The mighty and sacred Kawalongring Mountain SE of Kandze/ Ganzi.

Link to the 2017 Cordyceps & Morel Expedition May 30 to June 10

Last edited Tue, 12/27/2016 - 12:36

Cordyceum - Cordyceps Museum in Pinghu, Zhejiang, China

In October 2014 BioAsia opened a Cordyceps Museum called the Cordyceum in Pinghu, a small town 100 km to the Southwest of Shanghai. To celebrate its opening Prof. Li Zengzhi, a cordyceps researcher hired after retiring from his university duties by BioAsia organized an International Cordyceps Symposium March 28, 2015. 

Prof. Li Zengzhi shows how in the 1960s he experimented with spraying Beauveria conidia mixed with soil to fight forest tent caterpillars. Using entomophagous fungi, especially Beauveria and Metharizum for pest control is now standard practice in China, Prof Li stated.


 Cordyceum Pinghu
The Cordyceum has thousand visitors each day! Its free, but the average visitors spends RMB 100 (US$16) in the company store.

Here a short segment from the beginning of the Cordyceps time-line.
Cordyceps historical timlineI was not familiar with the details of the medical history of Isaria cicadae in East Asia known in China as "Vegetable Cicadae" or Jin Chan hua  金蝉花, which means literally "Cicada flower". The museum displays a lot of facts about its history. "Cicada flower" use apparently predates the so far known documented use of Yartsa gunbu, Ophiocordyceps sinensis.

In the museum there is a backlit display showing the historical developement of Cordyceps and its human use and 

cordyceum display shelf
Cordyceum specimen display shelf.

I photographed part of the museum section where they are trying to depict all known Cordyceps & allied species. To my surprise I found a bunch of my own photos! I had never been contacted about the use of my pictures. I was proudly told they were making an effort to keep the photographer's name in the images. Good that I paid more attention in recent years to watermark my best photos with "© Daniel Winkler" before posting them online. I told the organizers, if you had contacted me I would have send you these pictures in high resolution. 

Here another sample of the species photo display section covering fly parasitizing Cordyceps species.

Cordyceps musicaudata Cordyceps ramosostipitata
Li Zengzhi's favorite specimen: 3 species of Cordyceps on one caterpillar. The original is shown in the museum.

Tatiana Sanjuan's photo of an Cordyceps infected stinkbug.



The symposium focused on the science of Cordyceps and also product development from cultivated Cordyceps species. Li Zengzhi invited an impressive gathering of Cordyceps researchers there who gave lots of interesting talks. Gi-ho Sung, Korea and Nigel Hywell-Jones, Thailand/UK gave a great overview on Cordyceps taxonomy. It was great hearing them both, and I finally met Gi-ho Sung in person!

Prof Li Zengzhi talking about the history of Isaria cicadae in China.

Ho-Yong Park talked about Cordyceps as a product in Korea. Wang Chenshu talked about genomical work focusing on commercially used Cordyceps species and I heard for the first time of trials to use yeasts to grow Cordycepin in bio-synthesis. Liu Xingzhong updated on the current research on Ophiocordyceps sinensis in China, fascinating! Apparently more people are succeeding in growing Os fruiting bodies, some from mycelium without insects hosts, some on hepialid larvae. However, no one went into details about this work, it was just mentioned. Unfortunately in the afternoon most talks were in Chinese without translation, like the presentation from Li Yuling, the Qinghai Province Cordyceps office chief. She is also a researcher working in the field on Yartsa gunbu for many years. I had met her before in Xining, Qinghai. 

Li Taihui from Guangdong presented how they are working on developing Cordyceps guangdongensis as a new TCM drug.

Some presenters at the symposium at the banquet: front row from right to left: Liu Xingzhong, Karma Singay, Ho-Yong Park, Nigel Hywell-Jones, Prof Li Zengzhi, Li Taihui, Gi-ho Sung. I am hiding in the second row.

I had the chance to present on collection of Yartsa gunbu, wild Ophiocordyceps sinensis on the Tibetan Plateau and how to harvest it sustainable (Here a link to a paper I published on the issue). Once again I urged the Chinese Cordyceps research community to finally start serious in-situ sustainability studies. Just incredible that such basic research crucial to the survival of the resource, and the Tibetan communities that collect it, is still not under way. Instead, all research focuses on issues that might help to cultivate Ophiocordyceps artificially. I can see the economic incentive and also that artificial cultivation woul;d reduce the pressure on Yartsa gunbu, but I can not understand that a question as fundamental as how to harvest wild Ophiocordyceps sinensis truly sustainable is just ignored and the government is not stepping in and making sure this crucial work is getting underway before the natural resource is seriously damaged by the intense annual collection. Anyway, spreading the sustainable harvest research gospel was my motivation to attend and it made it at least on the BioAsia News webpage. In a post presentation round table discussion this issue was discussed and it was agreed that this is a key issue, but to expect any action to come of it would be too naive.   


BioAsia Production in Pinghu - Zhejiang

At the entrance to BioAsia with from left Li Zenegzhi, Daniel Winkler, Giho Sung, Nigel Hywell-Jones, Hoyong Park, Karma Singay, Li Chunru & Tan Youjiu

Isaria cicadae grow room. It takes nearly 4 weeks for the synnemata, the anamorph fruiting body (see below image on product) to fully grow. Isaria cicadae is its current name, but originally it was described by Miquel in 1838 from Brazil, so there is a good chance that the East Asian material might be a different species.

Isaria cicadae growing in cultivation
Isaria cicadae synnemata growing in a cultivation tray.

BioAsia's product. The powdered fruiting bodies = synnemata are quite tasty.

Here the fancy version of Isaria cicadae grown on actual cicadas.

Last edited Tue, 07/07/2015 - 15:24

Bolivian Amazon Cordyceps Feburary 2015

You can join Tatiana Sanjuan and me for the April 2016 Mushroaming Trip in Colombia

Here a selection of Cordyceps & allies we have encountered in early February during the Mushroaming Bolivia Tour 2015.
All the specimen were located in Madidi National Park in around 250 to 300m altitude. 

Cordyceps on scarabaeus beetle
An immature Cordyceps growing out of a male Scarabaeid Dung beetle (Oxysternon conspicillatum) . Kobayashi described a Cordyceps scarabaeicola from East Asia, but I have no idea if this specimen is closely related. This one was found by Don Moore, Larry Evans found a more mature specimen in Madidi in 2007, whose stroma seemed close to Metacordyceps martialis. BBC has a great video on dung beetle in action in the rain forest

Cordyceps locustiphila
A perfect specimen of Cordyceps locustiphila. A giant 12 cm locust taken out by this parasite. Stromata growing out of the head and thorax are more mature than the ones  out of the abdomen. It just laid like this on its back in the dry leaves when Pam Buesing spotted it at Wizard Mountain near Rurrenabaque. What a find!!! 

Cordyceps locustiphila Bolivia

Cordyceps locustiphila
Cordyceps locustiphila 

Do you spot the Cordyceps? Unfortunately this Cordyceps I found on my computer screen when looking at the weird structure of this Xylaria in the X. polymorpha group. I found a second stroma further in the back.  Interestingly it also shows how long lasting these old Xylaria fruiting bodies are that they are used by Cordyceps. Missing aCordyceps in the field happens probably all the time, but taking a picture of one and discovering it in photo also happened to me before. Both times my attention was focused on a much bigger mushroom. Below a serious enlargement of the Xylaria:

Cordyceps growing from an ant attached below the old fruiting body of a big Xylaria polymorpha group. It might be the immature stroma of Ophiocordyceps australis.

Ophiocordyceps australis
Ophiocordyceps australis growing from a contorted ant. The branching stroma is mostly immature besides one mature head.

Ophiocordyceps australis
Two stromata of Ophiocordyceps australis growing out of an ant.

The fruiting body reminds me of Ophiocordyceps kniphofioides, but the host of O. kniphofioides is usually an ant and not a beetle. This is the same specimen seen from both sides.

An old Akanthomyces sp. that digested a moth.

Face of the moth infested by an Akanthomyces sp.

Torrubiella sp. 
growing on a moth attached to a leaf. On the abdomen of the moth one can see the roundish perithecia, the structure in which the ascospores are produced. Around the head the synnemata that are typical for the anamorph. Some Gibellula species are the anamorph of Torrubiella species 

The stroma of an Ophiocordyceps close to O. sobolifera growing out of the loamy mineral soil near Macaw Rock. The site is in the flood plain of the Rio Tuichi.

Ophiocordyceps sobolifera stroma
Immature  stroma that is just branching. It looks like the main axis dried out and a second growth spurt initiated growth out below the dry-out point.

A mature and immature fruiting body of an Ophiocordyceps sobolifera group. Both are growing out of Cicadas in larval state.

Close up of the fertile tissue of Ophiocordyceps sobolifera 

Cordyceps growing out of an old decomposing branch.

It turns out the host of this Cordyceps is a coleopteran larva

Close up of the stromata of a Cordyceps on coleopteran larva

Close up of the dissected stroma. As good as it got with macro and photoshop. It looks better under a microscope.


Metacordyceps martialis
Metacordyceps martialis fruiting body growing out of a dead trunk

Metacordyceps martialis
Fertile tissue of the stroma with ostioles of the perithecia showing with a spider crawling around

Metacordyceps martialis
Dug out Metacordyceps martialis growing on a larva, probably of a coleopteran beetle found on Wichi Trail, Chalalan.


Ophiocordyceps dipterigena
A dried in specimen of Ophiocordyceps dipterigena, the fly parasitizing Cordyceps. 
O. dipterigena and O.australis, the ant parasite are the Cordyceps we find most frequently. 

A Cordyceps growing from a shield bug, but I have not figured out its identity yet.

A strange Cordyceps that might be growing on a stick bug, unfortunately I lost this sample before i could clean it and take another picture.


Thanks to Dr. Tatiana Sanjuan, Bogota for taxonomic advice. 

If you want to join Tatiana and me for a Mushroaming Trip in Colombia, send us a note.

Last edited Sat, 07/11/2015 - 14:35

Cordyceps in the Bolivian Yungas 2015

You can join Tatiana Sanjuan and me for the upcoming Mushroaming Trip in Colombia

On a short hike along a shady creek not far from Senda Verde Animal Rescue Center we ran into a treasure trove of Cordyceps fungi.
Within a few hours we found 15 Cordyceps specimens belonging to 12 different species in 8 genera. After we had found the first Cordyceps, I remembered we should check under leaves for Cordyceps. So I told the Mushroaming group, "turn over leaves and check for Cordyceps down below". And the first leaf I turned over after having said that actually had an Akanthomyces growing below, what a coincident!
The site was located in about 1350m. Yungas refers to the warm, humid forests sandwiched between the lowland Amazon rain forest and the Andean Altiplano.

Akanthomyces on moth
An Akanthomyces, possibly A. pistillariiformis growing on a moth that was attached to the underside of a fern (The dark brown spots on the leave are sori).

AkanthomycesA still young Akanthomyces sp. on moth


Isaria amoenerosea
 An Isaria sp. in the Isaria amoenorosea group parasitizing a Lepidoptera host. Isaria is an anamorph. Anamorphs reproduce non-sexually by growing conidiospores that clone the DNA of the parental organism.


Ophiocordyceps dipterigena
Mature stromata of Ophiocordyceps dipterigena grown from the mummified host a fly.
On the stroma in front one can recognize the perithecia, the roundish structure with a ostiole in the center, the opening out of which mature ascospores are ejected..

Ophiocordyceps dipterigena
A young specimen of what looks like to Ophiocordyceps dipterigena. The fungal fruiting bodies are still growing from the parasitized fly. While I assume the tall whitish stromata will develop the typical "hammerhead" of O. dipterigena stromata, they also could turn out be Hymenostilbe fruiting bodies or to stay with the new terminology, just O. dipterigena anamorphs producing asexual conidiospores. Even more perplexing is the shape of the three yellow fruiting bodies at the lower end. There shape does not look very much like O. dipterigena, but they are still developing and they might "shape up".

Ophiocordyceps dipterigena Sporothrix isarioides
This seems to be Sporothrix isarioides, a hyperparasite growing on the parasitic Ophiocordyceps dipterigena that parasitized a fly in the first place. (Unfortunately the photo is not completely in focus since the fly was attached to a small tree that apparently moved a tiny bit in the wind.)


Some entomophagous fungus, could be anything from a Beauveria to a Paecilomyces.

A fly seems to be attracted to this entomophagous fungus.


Gibellula, maybe G. pulchra, has completely enmeshed a spider that was attached to an air root and is producing millions of conidiospores on the fungal synnemata.

Gibellula pulchra? growing on a spider that was attached to below a leaf.

A close-up of a Gibellula pulchra? synnema covered in conidiophores with conidiospores.


Cordyceps Hymenostilbe
A spider victimized by some type of Cordyceps, maybe a Polycephalomyces species . 


Ophiocordyceps caloceroides
Probably the fruiting bodies of a Ophiocordyceps caloceroides group. Cordyceps of this group are specialized in attacking spiders and spider eggs.


A Metacordyceps growing from a larva.

The fertile tissue of the stroma of the Metacordyceps.


Probably Ophiocordyceps nutans growing from a shield bug.

Close-up of the fertile tissue of the stroma of the Ophiocordyceps nutans.


An Aschersonia sp. with mature perithecia. These tiny yellow spots were all over. This was the first time I checked for these fungi and there hundreds of them in the rain forest.

An Aschersonia feeding on a tiny insect like a aphid or are these insect eggs?

We were puzzled for awhile what we were seeing here. At first we were hoping we had found a very strange Cordyceps, but proper magnification popped that dream quickly.  Still there is some entomophagous fungus action going on, maybe a Beauveria or some other "fungus imperfectus".

  Thanks to Dr. Tatiana Sanjuan, Bogota for taxonomic advice.

If you want to join Tatiana and me for a Mushroaming Trip in Colombia, send us a note.


Last edited Wed, 03/11/2015 - 08:22

Amazon & Yungas Cordyceps - Mushroaming Bolivia 2014

Ophiocordyceps melolonthae 

O. melolonthae is applied to species that produce a bright yellow stroma parasitizing on the larva of the Hercules beetle.
Ophiocordyceps melolonthae photographed in situ (left) above Yolosa near Coroico in about 1400m in early February 2014, Yungas Bolivia

 Ophiocordyceps_melolonthae Ophiocordyceps_melolonthae sliced

Ophiocordyceps_melolonthae sliced

Cross section showing the fully-embedded perithecia of Ophiocordyceps melolonthae lined up along the outside.




Last edited Fri, 12/12/2014 - 18:27


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