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Cordyceps is
Cordyceps Herb
a genus of ascomycete fungi, the most famous of which is the vegetable caterpillar Cordyceps sinensis. All Cordyceps species are parasitic, mainly on insects and other arthropods (they are thus entomopathogenic fungi); a few are parasitic on other fungi like the subterranean, truffle-like Elaphomyces. The mycelium invades and eventually replaces the host tissue, while the elongated fruiting body (stroma) may be cylindrical, branched, or of very complex shape. The stroma contains many flask-shaped perithecia (sing. perithecium): hollow, flask-shaped structures usually embedded in the stromatic tissue that contain many long, cilindric asci. These in turn contain the filiform (thread-like) ascospores, which easily break into fragments and presumably constitute an infective stage.

The genus has a worldwide distribution and more than 300 species are currently known most have been described from Asia (notably Japan, Korea and Thailand). The genus has many anamorphs (asexual states), of which Beauveria (possibly including Beauveria bassiana), Metarhizium, and Paecilomyces (section Isaria) are the better known, since these have been used in biological control of insect
Cordyceps Herb
pests. Cordyceps species are particularly abundant and diverse in humid temperate and tropical forests. They are the source of substances with interesting biological and pharmacological properties, like cordycepin; the anamorph of Cordyceps subsessilis (Tolypocladium inflatum) was the source of cyclosporin a drug helpful for human organ transplants, as it suppresses the immune system (immunosuppressor).

The excessive collecting of Cordyceps sinensis for sale in traditional medicine poses a threat for the environment of the Tibetan plateau where it grows. Recently, Steven Seagal has introduced this traditional medicine to a new group of consumers with his signature beverage, Steven Seagal's Lightning Bolt.

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