The rarest mushroom in the world is the Yartsa Gunbu. Also known as Caterpillar Fungus, this parasitic delicacy comes from the mummified cacoons of burrowing caterpillars. Dangerous to insects, the Caterpillar Fungus is a human delicacy better recognized as the sexually enhancing supplements and medicine of the Himalayas. The Yartsa Gunbu is a natural aphrodisiac which makes it highly valuable.
The origins of the Yartsa Gunbu mushroom are linked back to the Tibetan region of Southwest China, where it is now in danger of disappearing because of worldwide interest. The Tibetan economy is highly dependent on the Yartsa Gunbu farming.
Currently, the price of the Caterpillar Fungus is around $50,000 per pound and increasing. The more interest people have in this special mushroom, the higher the price will rise. Because of its rarity, Yartsa Gunbu China associates consuming Yartsa Gunbu mushrooms with high status. Many people want a taste of this rare delicacy, but doing so is unachievable because of the growing price.
How Are Yartsa Gunbu’s Grown?
The Yartsa Gunbu is an entomopathogenic fungus. Although it is consumable to humans, it acts as a parasite to many insects. In fact, without caterpillars, the Yartsa Gunbu would not grow.
One of the most prominent victims of the Yartsa Gunbu is the ghost moth larvae. These larvae burrow underground during winter to hibernate. After going underground to hibernate, the parasitic fungus infects burrowing caterpillars, overtaking their bodies and slowly mummifying them in a vertical position.
Eventually, the decadent Yartsa Gunbu will spurt out of the ground, straight from the top of the caterpillar’s head. Farmers will harvest them and then sell them for thousands of dollars!
The downfall of the Yarsa Gunbu mushrooms is the long and strenuous process. If the fungal pathogens and larvae do not naturally pair together, the Yartsa Gunbu’s will not grow. Because of the growth process, the ultimate yield is unpredictable.
How Much Does a Yartsa Gunbu Cost?
The delicious Yartsa Gunbu costs around $2,000 per one ounce, an absurdly high cost for such a small amount. Compared to your grocery store shiitake mushroom, which sells for around $8 per pound, the Yartsa Gunbu sells for around $50,000 per pound.
The Caterpillar Fungus is the most expensive fungi on the market. High mushroom production can bring large economic gains. In some towns, the high economic gain has helped some cities upgrade their cities by doing things like installing solar panels.
The price of Yartsa Gunbu mushrooms will vary based on the amount you purchase. According to a story in The Atlantic, mushroom farmers will sell this fungus on the sides of mountain passes. Dish over a hefty $1000 for 250 pieces of the medicinal Yartsa Gunbu shrooms.
Prices may also vary based on your mushroom vendor. Roadside vendors offer high-quality, fresh mushrooms for a good price point. Purchasing mushrooms from overseas will be sold for higher prices and lower quality because they are less fresh. In addition, overseas purchases will have import taxes.
Why is the Yartsa Gunbu So Rare?
There are several reasons why the Yarsa Gunbu is so rare, like its aphrodisiac qualities. In addition, the harvesting process of this mushroom is complicated and rigorous.
The natural aphrodisiac qualities of Yartsa Gunbu make it an extremely rare fungus. Unlike the many pharmaceuticals that can give this effect, the Yartsa Gunbu is a natural aphrodisiac. People may achieve the same effects as a sexual stimulant like sexually enhancing supplements and medicines without any harmful chemicals. There are several other medicinal qualities from the Yarsa Gunbu. In some cases, people use mushrooms for cancer treatments.
According to Science Alert, the endangered status of the parasitic Yartsa Gunbu makes it a rare fungus. There are few regions skilled in harvesting Yartsa Gunbu mushrooms. The difficult fungus is in limited supply, with very few farmers skilled in its harvesting trade. The Yartsa Gunbu can only be found in a single region of Southwest China and is not grown in the United States.
Because of its limited availability, the Yartsa Gunbu has become a status symbol in China. It is an expensive and highly sought-after mushroom.
Where Can I Find Yartsa Gunbu Mushrooms?
You can find the Yartsa Gunbu mushroom in the Himalayan regions of Bhutan and Nepal. Many reports suggest that the Nepali economy relies on this pricy aphrodisiac. At one point, Nepalese mushroom farmers used the profits of their mushroom yields to provide themselves with self-sustaining equipment.
You may also find this pricy shroom on the Tibetan Plateau in Southwest China. In this area, they grow in large meadows and are tended to by farmers.
Because of the high economic yield that this mushroom can bring, the government dedicates a portion of its funding to reinvesting into the farming community of the Tibetan region of Southwest China. They train future farmers in proper harvesting techniques and provide their farming communities with sustainable farming gear. In many cases, the government will also reward their farmers for high yields and profits.
The growth and harvesting of this rare and expensive mushroom do not go unnoticed by government officials. The government rewards their farming communities with self-sustainable living practices, making a living in rural communities more efficient for their farmers.
Providing them with things like solar panels, wells, and other eco-friendly tools makes farming easier. It also makes life easier for the Tibetan people of Southwest China.
Can You Purchase The Caterpillar Fungus in the United States?
You cannot purchase Caterpillar Fungus from vendors in the United States. Still, they can be ordered online from overseas farmers at an additional expense. Many websites like Amazon or direct Chinese importers provide Yartsa Gunbu mushrooms.
Importing Yartsa Gunbu can increase costs. The United States would need to perform further research studies on these helpful fungi to decrease the costs. If they were more educated on harvesting methods of the Yartsa Gunbu, they might learn to cultivate it locally.
Even with the many medicinal benefits, many scientists and pharmaceutical companies remain apprehensive about performing further research.