The main difference between Cordyceps sinensis and Cordyceps militaris is that Cordyceps sinensis is a caterpillar fungus that grows from the caterpillar of the Hepialus moth whereas Cordyceps militaris is a commercially cultivated alternative to produce mushrooms.
Cordyceps sinensis and Cordyceps militaris are two types of ascomycetes fungi. In addition, they are medicinal mushrooms that provide many health benefits.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is Cordyceps Sinensis
– Definition, Features, Importance
2. What is Cordyceps Militaris
– Definition, Features, Importance
3. Similarities Between Cordyceps Sinensis and Cordyceps Militaris
– Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Cordyceps Sinensis and Cordyceps Militaris
– Comparison of Key Differences
Cordyceps Militaris, Cordyceps Sinensis
What is Cordyceps Sinensis
Cordyceps sinensis or caterpillar fungus is an ascomycetes fungus and a common species of Cordyceps mushrooms. Generally, it is very rare in the wild due to the specific life cycle and the environmental conditions necessary to thrive. However, it grows above the ground’s surface. The fungus’s main feature is that the fungus’s wild form can enter and grow in the caterpillar of the Hepialus moth. It mainly grows at high elevations in Tibet and China. It also grows in Nepal, India, and Bhutan.
Furthermore, Cordyceps sinensis contains a compound called cordycepin, which is a derivative of nucleoside adenosine. Generally, the fungus is dubbed Himalayan Gold due to the rapid rise in the price of this mushroom. However, ecosystem degradation, overharvesting, and climate change bring concerns over the sustainability of Cordyceps sinensis mushrooms. It’s also important to note that, naturally harvesting caterpillar fungus contains a high amount of arsenic along with other heavy metals. Therefore, the fruiting bodies of this fungus is potentially toxic.
What is Cordyceps Militaris
Cordyceps militaris is another genus of ascomycetes fungi that grows on dead, underground pupae. The fungus is club-shaped and contains red or orange color fruiting bodies that are around 8 cm long. In addition, the club is covered with stroma and the surface of the mushroom is roughly punctured. The fungus is quite common and spreads through the Northern hemisphere. In general, the fruiting bodies appear in the month of August to November. The other names for the fungus, Cordyceps militaris include the scarlet club fungus and caterpillar killer.
Moreover, Cordyceps militaris is commercially cultivated for the mushroom and is quite popular in supplements. However, the commercial cultivation of mushrooms does not require insects. Cordyceps militaris contains cordycepin in higher amounts in comparison to Cordyceps sinensis. The key compound that brings health benefits in the mushroom is beta-glucan.
Similarities Between Cordyceps Sinensis and Cordyceps Militaris
- Cordyceps sinensis and Cordyceps militaris are two types of Cordyceps fungi that belong to the family Cordycipitaceae. In addition, the genus Cordyceps is an ascomycete fungus (sac fungus) that contains about 600 species.
- In general, Cordyceps is a parasitic fungus in insects.
- On the other hand, both are medicinal mushrooms that have many health benefits and are available in the forms of tinctures, supplements, and fruiting bodies.
- They display antioxidant properties, acting against different types of oxidative stress.
- Both mushrooms exhibit hypoglycemic properties that lower blood sugar, being effective to treat diabetes.
- They alleviate the symptoms of respiratory illness.
Difference Between Cordyceps Sinensis and Cordyceps Militaris
Cordyceps sinensis refers to an Ascomycete fungus and is well documented in Tibetan traditional medicine while Cordyceps militaris refers to a species of fungus in the family Cordycipitaceae, and the type species of the genus Cordyceps.
Cordyceps sinensis grows in the mountain regions of China while Cordyceps militaris grows in North America.
Moreover, Cordyceps sinensis is a caterpillar fungus that grows from the caterpillar of the Hepialus moth while Cordyceps militaris is a commercially cultivated alternative to produce mushrooms.
Normally, Cordyceps sinensis contains less cordycepin while Cordyceps militaris contains more cordycepin.
Cordyceps sinensis is not included in cordyceps supplements while Cordyceps militaris is included in cordyceps supplements.
In brief, Cordyceps sinensis and Cordyceps militaris are two types of Cordyceps fungi that are parasitic on insects. Generally, they live in the mountain regions of the China. Cordyceps sinensis is a caterpillar fungus that grows on the caterpillar of the Hepialus moth. It contains more adenosine. Cordyceps militaris, on the other hand, is an alternative fungus that commercially grown for mushrooms. Chemically, it contains less amounts of adenosine but significantly, it contains cordycepin. However, the main difference between Cordyceps sinensis and Cordyceps militaris is their type of growth.
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- Jędrejko KJ, Lazur J, Muszyńska B. Cordyceps militaris: An Overview of Its Chemical Constituents in Relation to Biological Activity. Foods. 2021 Oct 30;10(11):2634. doi: 10.3390/foods10112634. PMID: 34828915; PMCID: PMC8622900.