E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Cordyceps militaris (L.: Fr.) Link
caterpillar fungus

Species account author: Ian Gibson.
Extracted from Matchmaker: Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest.

Introduction to the Macrofungi

© Adolf Ceska  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #19131)

E-Flora BC Static Map
Distribution of Cordyceps militaris
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Species Information

features include cylindric to club-shaped orange to red fruitbody with head pimpled and slightly wider and usually brighter in color, arising from underground dead pupa or larva of butterfly; contains an antibiotic that helps prevent bacterial degradation, (Lincoff(1)), found throughout North America (Phillips), New England to NC, west to CA, (Lincoff(2)), BC (in Redhead), Europe including Norway (Stensrud(1)) and United Kingdom (Dennis); collections from BC at Pacific Forestry Centre and University of British Columbia
Fruiting body:
2-8cm tall, cylindric to spindle- or club-shaped, (i.e., with a slightly swollen upper fertile region, but lacking a well-defined "head"); often with a longitudinal furrow. Upper (fertile) portion of club' 0.2-0.6cm wide, "orange to orange-buff to orange
often curved or wavy; usually paler; smooth, (Arora), slender, flexuous [wavy], passing imperceptibly into head, (Dennis), 3-4cm x 0.3-0.5cm, slender and tapering to base; red-orange or paler, smooth, (Lincoff(2))
spores thread-like, multiseptate, smooth, colorless, breaking up into one-celled, barrel-shaped segments averaging 2-6 x 1-1.5 microns, (Arora), 300-500 x 1-1.5 microns, thread-like and many cells, breaking into part-spores 3.5-6 x 1-1.5 microns, barrel-shaped, smooth, (Lincoff(2)), spores "thread-like, as long as the ascus, breaking into part-spores which become slightly barrel-shaped, 3.5-6 x 1-1.5 microns"; asci 8-spored, very long, about 4 microns wide, with thick-walled apex; perithecia completely immersed, (Dennis)

Habitat / Range

single to gregarious or clustered on buried pupae (or less commonly caterpillars) of moths and butterflies, (Arora), usually single, on larvae and pupae of moths and butterflies, which are usually buried in soil, (Dennis), single to several "on the ground or in humus or well-decayed wood"; late summer and fall, (Miller)

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Genetic information (NCBI Taxonomy Database)
Taxonomic Information from the World Flora Online
Index Fungorium
Taxonomic reference: Handbuck zur Erkennung der Nutzbarsten und am Haufigsten Vorkommenden Gewachse 3: 347. 1833

Additional Range and Status Information Links


unknown (Arora), said to be unpalatable (McKnight)

Additional Photo Sources

Related Databases

Species References

Dennis(1), Arora(1)*, Miller(14)*, Phillips(1)*, Lincoff(2)*, Lincoff(1)*, Courtecuisse(1)*, McKnight(1)*, Redhead(5), Stensrud(1), Bacon(1)*, Buczacki(1)*

References for the fungi

General References