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Ophiocordiceps sinensisC. ophioglossoides (syn).
etymology is from the Latin cord "club", ceps "head", and sinensis "from China"; In Tibetan it is known as དབྱར་རྩྭ་དགུན་འབུ་ yartsa gunbu [Wylie: dbyar rtswa dgun 'bu, "summer herb winter worm"]
Eng: Caterpillar fungus, deer fungus, club-head fungus.
Tibetan: yartsa gunbu
German: Chinesischer Raupenpilz
Fungi; Ascomycetes - Ascomycetes; Ascomycetidae; Clavicipitales / Pyrenomycetes; Pyrenomycetinae
Description of the substance
The foto is kindly published for free use by William Rafti of the William Rafti Institute (license see Here)
Ophiocordyceps sinensis, colloquially known as caterpillar fungus. The fungus is known in Tibetan as yartsa gunbu or yatsa gunbu.
Caterpillar fungi are the result of a parasitic relationship between the fungus and the larva of the ghost moth genus Thitarodes, several species of which live on the Tibetan Plateau (Tibet, Qinghai, West-Sichuan, SW-Gansu & NW Yunnan), and the Himalayas India, Nepal, Bhutan). The fungus germinates in living organisms (in some cases larvae), kills and mummifies the insect, and then the fungus grows from the body of the insect.
The caterpillars prone to infection by the fungus live underground in alpine grass and shrublands on the Tibetan Plateau and the Himalayas at an altitude between 3,000 and 5,000 m (9,800 and 16,000 ft). Spending up to five years underground before pupating, the Thitarodes caterpillar is attacked while feeding on roots. It is not certain how the fungus infects the caterpillar; possibly by ingestion of a fungal spore or by the fungus mycelium invading the insect through one of the insect's breathing pores. The fungus invades the body of the caterpillars, filling its entire body cavity with mycelia and eventually killing and mummifying it. The caterpillars die near the tops of their burrows. The dark brown to black fruiting body (or mushroom) emerges from the ground in spring or early summer, always growing out of the forehead of the caterpillar. The long, usually columnar fruiting body reaches 5–15 cm above the surface and releases spores.