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.