Cordyceps militaris is a fungus from the tubular fungi division that parasitizes on butterfly pupae.
Cordyceps species are among the few fungi that “dock” onto insect larvae or adult hosts with parasitic intent. Cordyceps militaris, which is also found in our region, attacks pupal stages of moths deposited in the soil. All Cordyceps species are specialized on more or less one single host, some species attack living ants, others also attack larger insects.
Since the traditional species (C.sinensis), which occurs only in the Himalayas, cannot come close to meeting the enormous worldwide demand, is now considered endangered, and is very difficult to bring to fruition, C.militaris, a close relative with similar potential, has been produced on an industrial scale in Asia for about 15 years.
Cordyceps militaris loses the ability to fruit particularly quickly, after no more than 1 year or 5 transfers to a new culture medium, it no longer gets beyond mycelial formation. In contrast to stander fungi (Basidiomycota), cultures of various tubular fungi (Ascomycota) cannot be kept fertile for a particularly long time by cloning. Therefore, new hybrids from ascospores have to be grown again and again for ongoing production.
-doping agent to increase performance
-against tumors & malignant tumor metastases
-stimulating the immune system
This is attributed to the ingredient Cordycepin.
Cordyceps militaris contains anti-inflammatory polysaccharides, which are also effective against tumors and their metastases. The ingredient cordycepin kills bacteria. Furthermore, in traditional Chinese medicine it is said to have aphrodisiac and lung and kidney strengthening effects. The mushroom is also used in Asia as a medicine against colds and as a doping agent.
A common method is a technique of pouring a special broth of various ingredients over rice grains and then sterilizing this mix. Ideally, such cultures are inoculated with liquid broth. You need tall jars or microboxes with sterile filters. The fungus then hatches in the closed container, and the high CO² content does little harm to it. Advantages of the “in vitro” process are that Cordyceps militaris are later hygienically perfect, because no contamination can creep in and you do not need a classic fruiting room with complex climate control.In Asia, the remaining “substrate cake” is also harvested, dried and later ground. A special kind of chicken feed, the coveted cordycepic acid is later found in the eggs.
Substrate recipes with dried silkworms or chicken eggs can be found among successful breeders, as well as numerous recipes for making the nutrient broth with which you soak the rice. Malt extract, dextrose, nutritional yeast, tapioca starch, soyapeptone, gypsum and lime are the basis for such a broth, potato extracts and certain chemicals can be helpful whilst cultivating Cordyceps militaris.
Agar Culture Media: PDA/MEA with egg
Containers for fruiting: glass jars with filter port
Substrates: dead insects or rice with egg nutrition
out of dead insect bodies
Relative Humidity %
FAE per h
Cordyceps militaris lives on dead pupae of various large butterflies, rarely also on caterpillars. Depending on the author, it is rare to quite common, widespread throughout the northern hemisphere, and produces fruiting bodies in Europe from August to November.
Meadows, parks, forests, on dead, buried or exposed insect larvae, later decomposers, usually not found in Europe, from summer to autumn, extremely rare.
-< 1 cm Ø
-50 mm high
-yellow, yellow-orange, orange-red to brick-red
-tongue-shaped tip with orange-red warts
-4-6 x 1-2 µm
-orange-red to brick-red
-they protrude almost seamlessly from the head
-rooted in the dead insect’s body
Danger of confusion
Ophiocordyceps sinensis, Typhula fistulosa, Ophiocordyceps sphecocephala
Cordyceps militaris is a highly valued medicinal mushroom, despite to it neutral flavour.
4. Data med, edible
Scarlet Caterpillar Club
Lavaria gemmata, Xylaria militaris, Torrubia militaris, Corynesphaera militaris, Hypoxylon militare, Sphaeria militaris, Puppenkernkeule, Orangerote Puppenkernkeule