Hymenostilbe nutans

Hymenostilbe nutans

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Few Bhutanese Cordyceps

Here are some pictures of Bhutanese Cordyceps.
Figure One - Cordyceps militaris
This (Fig. 1) is Cordyceps militaris, or something very close. In this day and age I will only be happy when the DNA sequence matches. Too often people name just about any old orange Cordyceps on a Lepidoptera as Cordyceps militaris. For example..... This (Fig. 2) is an orange Cordyceps growing on a Lepidoptera pupa buried in a rotten twig. But this is definitely not Cordyceps militaris.
Figure Two - Cordyceps sp.

Figure Three - Cordyceps sinensis
Bhutan is home to the most famous of 'Cordyceps' - Cordyceps sinensis (Fig. 3). An immediate Google hunt has come up with 737,000 hits for this particular beast. There are few other species that would get ten hits! Cordyceps sinensis is no longer a Cordyceps - bloody taxonomists, always mucking about with names. Officially it is now known as Ophiocordyceps sinensis. I was one of those bloody taxonomists involved in changing the name (see reference below). While Oph. sinensis grows only in the alpine grasslands of the Himalayan Plateau most 'Cordyceps' grow in forests. In just two short years we have recorded over 100 Cordyceps and 'relatives'. Including one (Fig. 4) that was discovered in southern forest back in 2007 and is a new species.

Figure Four - Ophiocordyceps 'bhutanensis'.

It's a relative of Oph. sinensis - ie it is also an Ophiocordyceps. But it will, in this day and age, take molecular work to show how close it is related to Oph. sinensis. For now it is known as the 'Gedu Cordyceps' because it came from Gedu. We have a couple of names in the pipeline for it.


Sung, G-H., Hywel-Jones, N.L. Sung, J-M, Luangsa-ard, J.J., Shrestha, B. & Spatafora, J.W. (2007). Phylogenetic classification of Cordyceps and the clavicipitaceous fungi. Studies in Mycology 57: 5-59.

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