March 13th, 2008 7:00pm – General Meeting

The March meeting of the Cascade Mycological Society features Daniel Winkler. Daniel cover a topic related to his mycological explorations of Tibet.

The meeting will take place at Lane Community College Building 16, room 115 at 7:00pm (Directions).

For more information, please contact Kyle at 463-5260 or send email to

Mushrooms in Tibet – Daniel Winkler –

Tibet is famous for its absolutely stunning landscapes and its fascinating ancient culture. Maybe this abundance of attractions explains why its globally unmatched fungal economy has not received more attention yet. For centuries, Tibetans have collected and traded mushrooms; “Yartsa gunbu” (caterpillar fungus – Cordyceps sinensis) even functioned traditionally as a currency.

Improved communication and the commodification of natural resources have caused an astounding mushrooming of the fungus industry. The market is dominated by Yartsa gunbu, which accounts for over 95% of the fungi market value. In Tibet, it contributes 40% to the rural cash income. Its contribution to the GDP equals the whole manufacturing and mining sector. Currently it is the world’s most precious medicinal fungus reaching over $30,000 per kg. Every year in spring, Tibetans comb the alpine grasslands for this elusive fungus feeding on larvae, while forest down below are searched for “gugu shamo”, the “cuckoo mushroom” (Morchella spp.), which is exported to Europe.

During the summer, “besha” (Tricholoma matsutake) is collected to be flown fresh to Japan. Daily, entire villages with access to oak forests – hence the Tibetan name “oak mushroom” – collect besha for a 6-8 week period. An array of other mushrooms, such as Amanita hemibapha, Hygrophorus russula, Rozites emodensis, many boletes (Boletus, Leccinum), Cantharellus, and several species of Sarcodon and Tricholoma to mention a few, is also collected for the markets.

This presentation will combine Daniel’s fungal research with highlights from his recent “MushRoaming” tours to Tibet ranging from familiar and exotic mushrooms, mushroom markets, local collectors to monasteries nestled at the foot of ice capped mountains.

Daniel Winkler, trained as a geographer and ecologist, works as researcher and NGO consultant on environmental issues of the Tibetan Plateau and Himalayas. He has published on forest ecology, forestry, land-use, and medicinal plants and fungi (see ). Since 1998, Daniel is tracking yartsa gunbu, researching Tibet’s mushroom industry and its importance for rural people. Daniel is also leading “MushRoaming” tours to Tibet ( ). He lives in Kirkland, WA and has been a member of the Puget Sound Mycological Society since 1996. (Image from, a Tibetan painting)

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