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DIE WELT (Germany)

Worldcrunch

In his latest book, American National Geographic photographer and reporter Michael Yamashit writes about the Yartsa Gunbu miracle mushroom that could also be called Himalayan gold.

Die Welt's Bettina Seipp reports that depending on the quality of the shriveled Caterpillar Fungus, Chinese buyers are prepared to spend tens of thousands of euros per kilo for it.

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Photo: Baburkhan

In Shangri-La Along The Tea Road To Lhasa, Yamashita also documents the fungus with spectacular photographs taken when he went mushroom hunting with Tibetans. He also participated in the sorting, cleaning and selling of the Yartsa Gunbu, which only grows above tree level in the mountains, at 4,500 meters (over 14,700 feet).

The Chinese believe that the mushroom cures everything from impotence to Alzheimer’s and cancer. And since 1993, when track coach Ma Junren ascribed the success of his athletes at the World Track And Field Championships in part to the Yartsa Gunbu, it’s been considered a sports performance-enhancer as well.

On the old tea and horse trail known as the Chamagudao, meanwhile, Yamashita reports that the fungus has replaced tea and horses as the “new currency.”

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