Friday, June 5, 2015

Cordyceps - Killer Fungi

Cordyceps gunnii or ‘Dark Vegetable Caterpillar, is an interesting fungi with a fascinating story. I came across some today at the Lang Lang Primary School Arboretum.

(Click on images for a larger view)

Apparently there are about 400 species of cordyceps. C. gunnii is usually found in association with acacias and I found dozens of them today under some wattles. A few were growing in the middle of the track.

Cordyceps fungi are parasitic fungi that use insects or their larvae for their host. (Use this link to view a short and fascinating David Attenborough video about a cordyceps that uses live ants as its host)

Cordyceps gunnii grow from a host caterpillar below the ground. This one was just beginning to emerge through the surface.

I partly dug away some of the loose topsoil to a depth of nearly 450mm and still hadn’t reached the caterpillar corpse.

In some cultures, cordyceps are used for various medicinal and aphrodisiac applications. Don’t think I’ll give it a whirl.


  1. Do you always carry a shovel when walking or did you have a nearby terrier to do the excavation as reported in the last section?


  2. G'day Martin,
    Nice soft sandy loam. When I turned up at the bakery for a cuppa shortly after, my hands were filthy!