Scientists of Botanical Survey of India (BSI) have discovered nine species of wild mushrooms from Sikkim Himalayas in 2015. Among the species discovered, Canthrellus sikkimensis is edible and consumed by the locals.
BSI mushroom scientist Dr. Kanad Das, who along with his co-workers discovered the species, told SIKKIM EXPRESS that the species were discovered as part of his ongoing research project (in BSI) on mushrooms in Sikkim (2008-2019).
The new species were found in the subalpine region particularly the Singb Rhododendron Sanctuary and adjoining areas of North Sikkim.
“These species were established after undertaking extensive and intensive field explorations during these years followed by thorough macro and micromorphological studies and molecular systematics of these species,” said Dr. Das over phone from Kolkata.
He mentioned that four among the discovered species belong to the genus Lactarius , two of Suillus and one each from three genera namely, Cantharellus, Bondarzewia and Austroboletus.
These new species of fungi are mushrooms, seasonal in nature growing in different times particularly during the rainy season.
Dr. Das, who has extensively worked on mushrooms, had taken four survey tours to Sikkim to discover these nine species along with his survey team from BSI. Beside the findings, he has already discovered at least 50 new species of mushrooms from different parts of India. He is also credited for writing the first volume of ‘Mushrooms of Sikkim’ during his posting in BSI, Sikkim centre till 2013.
Asked whether the new Canthrellus Sikkimensis can be cultured for commercial production, Dr. Das said it would be difficult to do so in an artificial setting. They require the symbiotic association of the host trees in nature, he said.
“The mushroom species is vital for maintaining ecological balance in the forest. Alpine trees like Silver Fir will exist and grow as long as these mushrooms make them their hosts,” added Dr. Das.
According to the study findings, Canthrellus sikkimensis is edible. This species is more tall and slim in comparison to other species of this genus reported from India and is being consumed by locals like other chanterelles.