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The Mysterious Caterpillar Fungus or Yarsagumba Facts

Yarsagumba is the parasitic fungus exploits the larva of host moths. This is the most expensive herb in the entire planet. The price of higher elevation Yarsagumba can reach to $10k per kilogram. Due to this, it is often referred to as the biological gold.

Due to its immense use in Tibetan medicine and its potent aphrodisiac nature, erase ailments of kidney and remove fatigue they are of great economic significance.

The uses of the Yarsagumba as the medicine were done from the long time ago.  The distribution is localized in the higher elevation of Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet and North Eastern India.

Interesting information about the Yarsagumba

1. Mechanism of Infestation of Fungus on Caterpillar

The moth caterpillar lives in the underground and intensively feeds in the root of the plant. The fungus attacks the caterpillar. Due to the infestation of fungus the caterpillar dies. The fungus sprouts out from the head of the larva of the dead moth. Usually, they are extracted during the spring. The caterpillar normally lives 15 centimeters below the ground level.

The infestation of the fungus causes the caterpillar to stay vertical on the ground. Due to this Yarsagumba can only be coined as the caterpillar fungus.

The precise mechanism by which the fungus infects the caterpillar is poorly understood. Some hypothesis claims that the fungus gets infected by ingesting the spore or mycelium whereas other hypothesis claims that the vulnerable caterpillar after mounting is infested by fungus.

Further, the longer staying period of caterpillar that is up to 5 years drastically increases the process of infestation.

2. Elevation Range

Yarsagumba grows better at the elevation of above 3,000 to 5,000 meter above sea level. Though Yarsagumba also found to be at the lower elevation.

The medical value of the Yarsagumba from lower elevation is believed to be of inferior quality. Due to this, the price of low elevation Yarsagumba is lower than the higher elevation.

3. Commercial Harvesting

Despite all the necessary information is available commercial harvesting of this plant has not done. It is estimated the annual market value of Yarsagumba is more than 15 billion United States dollar.

4. Collection Under Natural Condition

Caterpillar fungus is found in harsh and rough terrain and collected manually. It is the cause of massive causality of the people who collect the Yarsagumba every year. Often the collection is done when the snow gets melted.

The May and June are considered suitable for the collection of the Yarsagumba because of the facts that snow melts in this period at the higher elevation. Even the local educational institution in the higher elevation areas gets closed in this period in order to collect the Yarsagumba.


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