Scientific name: Cordyceps militaris
Also called “Chinese caterpillar mushroom”, or “Winter worm, summer grass” which is the literal translation in Chinese. It has a long history being used as an expensive medicinal mushroom in Traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicine to treat lung inflammation, heart weakness and urogenital disorders, as well as to strengthen the immune system to fight cancers or other immune disorders. Some research has shown that this highly prized mushroom also has anti-aging properties and was used exclusively by the Emperor and Noble families in ancient China because it was extremely rare at that time.
Cordyceps militaris constitutes the highest amount of nutritional components among the 400 species in the genus Cordyceps. It is actually produced from a parasitic relationship between fungus and larva, usually that of a moth. After infecting the larva, the fungus forms the mycelium which mummifies the body while consuming the larva. The fruiting bodies that result grows out from the body of the larva and are bright orange in color.
Although Cordyceps mushrooms is now successfully domesticated, its ascocarp can only be harvested once from each host and therefore, the yield is low. Traditionally, this mushroom is prepared as a soup along with wolfberries, ginger, red dates, or other Chinese herbs added to chicken. The Cordyceps militaris and the Reishi mushroom is also a great combination!