Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis)
In its native habitat, the Cinhai-Tibetan forests (2,000 to 4,000 meters from the sea level), Cordyceps grows under quite low temperature and low oxygen conditions. In the Chinese province of Dzilin there grows another Cordyceps species, Cordyceps militarik (L.) link, known also as “Northern Cordyceps”. The Latin etymology describes “cord” as “club”, “ceps” as “head” and “sinensis” as “Chinese.”
The cost of one kilogram high-quality Cordyceps can reach US $ 34,500. Cordyceps is a very rare mushroom species, which has a unique development life cycle. One of its stages is parasitic. Its host is the butterfly Hepialide. If in a warm season a spore of cordyceps penetrates into larva of Hepialide, then after winter is over and the vegetation begins, the spore transforms into a root. Out of this root a fungus body grows, looking as a blade of grass. In spring a developing fungus uses larva’s nutrients for its growth but later on interlacing with the rootage of the herbs growing nearby, uses their nutrients as well.
The wonders of Cordyceps have been known in China for at least 1,000 years where the mushroom is recognized as national medicinal treasure, a precious and practically divine tonic. In the form of a food supplement it increases energy and vitality. Cordyceps mushroom is one of the safest medicinal foods. The traditional Chinese medicine widely uses Cordyceps for treatment of various disorders. It improves sexual function in men and combat infertility in women. Cordyceps replenishes Yin, stimulates Yang and revives the lung and kidney meridians.
In China, this mushroom has a long written history. The first written record can be traced to A.D. 620 at the time of theTang Dynasty. Literature from that time describes a strange organism, living in the Tibetan mountain, which can transform itself from plant into animal and vice versa. Cordyceps became popular in the world after the high achievements of the Chinese track-and-field athletes in 1993, who took Cordyceps during the hard trainings on high elevation above the sea level.