From America to Khumbu for Observing Mushroom Field

From America to Khumbu for Observing Mushroom Field

August 7, 2022

From America to Khumbu for Observing Mushroom Field

156 species of mushroom found in Khumbu

Gobinda Pokharel

A 70 yrs old American citizen Richard Silver who is a lawyer by profession travelled from June 19 to July 2 in the Khumbu region to observe the mushroom fields. His journey this time was not for any professional reason.

Accompanied by other 8 Americans and 1 Mexican, Silver was happy to share his experience of this expedition. “ It was an extreme delight to get an opportunity to witness 100 species of mushrooms in just an interval of two days”, he remarked.

Most of the people visit the Khumbu region for observing mountains and climbing expeditions, birds watching and some others go for research. This region is thronged by visitors from April-October. While the two months of monsoon i.e. June-July is usually considered as ‘off season’ for mountain expeditions, this might be an important season to promote ‘mushroom tourism’ not only in the Khumbu region but in other Himalayan region of Nepal as well.

Sharing his expedition experience, Dr. Britt Bernyard, Chief Editor of Fungi Magazine and microbiologist said that he was fascinated by the diverse species of trees and mushrooms in the Everest region. During our phone conversation, he said, “ We saw beautiful forests in the Himalayas. Apart from Pine and Rhododendron forests, we could see breathtaking fields of mushroom species. He also stated that some of the mushroom species could be new to the whole world and there is a great potential of promoting ‘mushroom tourism’ during monsoon season as this is the most suitable time of the year for the growth of variety of mushroom species.

Shiva Devkota, who holds a Phd in mushroom studies, and a research fellow at the global institute for interdisciplinary studies led the expedition. Devkota has been conducting his research in the diversity of mushroom species found in the Khumbu region. Echoing the voice of his expedition members, he also stressed on the need to attract mushroom enthusiasts like Richard by promoting ‘mushroom tourism’.

In countries like China, America, Spain and Germany that practice nature based tourism, tourists tend to come for witnessing mushroom species.

Seeing the possibility of inviting tourists for witnessing mushroom fields, Dr. Devkota had approached various expeditions. After coordination with International Mountain Trekking Company in America, 9 mushroom enthusiasts were brought to an observation visit in Nepal. Reminiscing the idea to invite tourists, Dr. Devkota said, “ We thought that we would have a bird guide for bird watching and I will lead the mushroom observation expedition”.

The expedition has documented around 156 species of mushroom in the Khumbu region. All the species found have been picturized and an analysis is ongoing to understand the nature of these species including their peculiar characteristics. These species were found along the trails of the region only not in the core forest area.

While Devkota had studied the diversity of mushroom species for four years in this region, he had never witnessed some species which he could see in this expedition. Most of the species found are of those types that grow under the trees (micorisel). He informed that mushroom species that grow in open space were rarely found in this expedition. Mushroom species were found at an elevation of 2500m to 3500 metres. ‘Avis Sepecticbillis’ species of mushroom were predominantly found.

Likewise, the expedition has also recorded other species namely ‘Trimela Salmonia’ and ‘Amanita Tuloseyena’. While the former was found in China for the first time, the latter was recorded in India in the year 2019.

Another species named ‘Poff Ball’ was discovered at an altitude of 5123 metres above treeline according to Thomas Role, another member of the expedition. The team observed these mushroom species without plucking the mushroom or destroying their original habitat.

Out of 2182 fungi species, Nepal has 1291 mushroom species. While 159 among these mushroom species are edible, 74 species also have medicinal value. Some 100 species are considered poisonous according to the botanists.

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