The genus Cordyceps comprises of over 300 different species of sac fungi categorized as Ascomycetes. The name Cordyceps means club-head in Latin, as the fungus resembles small club like structure. Fries coined the term Cordyceps but as of now the term is also used as a generic name for various insect fungi with immense pharmacological values. This is enough to prove the importance and popularity of this sac fungus.
Cordyceps is one among the oldest genus of family Cordycipitaceae of parasitic fungi. Cordyceps are practically a larger genus of fungi famous for possessing immense medicinal properties. .
Members of genus Cordycepsis: C. militaris (left) and C. sinesis (right)
Out of various species of Cordyceps the most unique and precious is sinensis. It is known as Caterpillar Fungus. The association of this specie is through a parasitic association with insect known as Hepialis armoricanus. This parasite-host relationship between species sinensis of Cordyceps and the insect of the order Lepidopetran and genus Hepialis resulted into a wonderful herb with insect like structure.
The parasitic fungus Cordyceps sinensis invades the larval stage of insect host, Hepialis armoricanus. The insect, which resides around half feet below the surface is ultimately fully infected with the fungal parasite throughout the winter season and remain buried below the surface laden with ice.