Ep. 27: MushRoaming - Yartsa Gunbu Cordyceps of Tibet & Amazon Adventures (feat. Daniel Winkler)

Today on Mushroom Hour we are blessed to have the opportunity to interview Daniel Winkler. Daniel has been organizing mushroom focused eco-adventures across the world since 2007. His research on different species of Cordyceps has been featured in The Economist, National Geographic, New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, BBC World Service and more.

Emerging from the deep, Bavarian forests we meet a young Daniel who was foraging steinpilz (boletus edulis) when he was only 3-years-old! His academic studies saw him working on environmental and ecological issues and a sequence of synchronicity found him pursuing this work in Tibet. While he applied his training to benefit Tibetan communities, he soon found himself ensconced by the mysterious and highly-prized Yartsa Gunbu - the Tibetan catepillar fungus. We know this mushroom in the West as Ophiocordyceps Sinesis.

Daniel was one of the first westerners to deeply explore this famous zombie mushroom in the 1990's. Daniel will explain the unique ecology of the Ophiocordyceps Sinesis and why "CS-4", the strain that has been widely used in labs for testing medicinal properties and growing medicinal supplements, is likely not true ophiocordyceps sinesis! His fascinating research focused not only the physiology of the fungus, but also the history and ethnomycological implications of its use in Tibetan and Chinese culture. What profound economic impacts has the collection of Yartsa Gunbu had on the people of Tibet? How has this fungus had a massive influence in the diplomatic relations between Tibet and China for centuries?

Vicarious adventure abounds as we join a MushRoaming ecotour and experience the hunt for Yartsa Gunbu for ourselves. This pursuit of cordyceps then continues into the Amazon where an explosion of tropical biodiversity means we find a vastly more diverse collection of cordyceps species, including many that are unknown to science. What are any applications of these cordyceps species that can be found in the Amazon? Are there medicinal benefits that are yet to be discovered?

Thanks for listening and Mush Love!   

Directed, Recorded, Produced by: Mushroom Hour

Music by: Ancient Baby (https://peckthetowncrier.bandcamp.com/)   
Art by: Wyn Di Stefano (http://www.wyndistefano.com/)   

Episode Resources
MushRoaming website: http://mushroaming.com/
Yartsa Gunbu: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ophiocordyceps_sinensis

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published