Thursday 29 September 2011

Thousand Dollar Fungus: The Guchchi

While searching for information on different types of edible mushrooms, I have accidentally come across the strange name “Guchchi” a very demanding produce of the nature in national and international market according to Times of India.
 It is learnt that it is the fruiting body of fungus under genus Morcella known as gastronomer’s delight.
 Himachal Pradesh and adjoining states of India is fortunate to have one of the richest natural resource of Guchchi, the saprophytic fungus of smokey odor in taste.

Distribution of Guchchi:

Guchchi is found in Narkand village of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand, India according to Times of India. Recently, I have come to know that in Pakistan also it exists and found in Swat and Kaghan regions according to Herbs- Treat and Taste blog.

Brief botanical description of Guchchi:-

Guchchi belongs to Morcella genus of fungus; it is also called ‘Sponge Mushroom’ because of its ridged reticulate fruiting body cone which looks like a mushroom with a sponge cap.
 It grows in High Mountain at 9000ft. According of Times of India, Guchchi grows on stumps, logs of decaying wood, decaying leaves or humus soil in a cluster form.
 The fungus is black in low height and turns brown and then brackish or off white at greater heights.Guchchi grows after good snowfall leading good moisture in soil and atmosphere that enhance growth of Guchchi.
 It is normally found at height 5000ft to 10000ft especially when snow melts and dies during onset of monsoon. According to botanist, fungus also grows in ground as well as trees where the mighty Deodar and Kail forest flourish.

Harvesting of collection time of Guchchi:

Collection time is March to May. However, after harvest, fungus is strung together in small garlands about a foot and hung over hearth where they dry up in a week because of smoke and heat. It is also known to be highly nutritious and delicious.
 News reports indicate that the landless person of Himachal Pradesh collects the wild Guchchi and cure it for sale in the market. During season, people of the state earn up to rupees 50,000 in two or three months.

 Market demands

Guchchi commands a very high price in national and international market. As it is considered as gastronomer’s delight and it has great demands in five star hotels of the country and elsewhere.
 In  India, it sells for about rupees 15000 per kilogram and in US and Europe; it sells for 500 US Dollars per kilogram according to Times of India.

Bottle necks

It is said that it is not possible to have commercial farming like button mushroom because most research has not been done.


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