Mushroom enthusiast grows zombie fungus on his own BLOOD and SKIN – and then eats it
- The enterprising mushroom-lover told TikTok the fungi tasted ‘strangely sweet’
- In nature, Cordyceps fungus feeds off insects and can turn them into zombies
- But the fungus is also known for its health benefits and cancer-fighting effects
- READ MORE: Mushrooms you can safely eat and poisonous ones you must avoid
Cordyceps, an oddly trendy fungus that feeds off the dead, has been a staple of Chinese medicine for over 1,500 years and more recently has become central to the zombie apocalypse on HBO’s hit video game-adaptation The Last of Us.
But how does it stack up as a light snack?
One TikTok user, who goes by the name @Southernspore on the platform, had the guts to try it out with an added zombie twist: ‘I grew it off my own blood and skin.’
The enterprising mushroom-lover even put a piece of his fungal-infected dead skin under the microscope to show viewers the cordyceps’ ‘hyphae’ — its branching, filament-like structures — growing on a diet of these former bits of himself.
‘They all have this disgusting yellow tinge,’ he said, before taking a few long chews.
‘I’m not going to swallow it, but (um) it’s strangely sweet. It’s pretty good,’ he said.
‘I would eat it again.’
Cordyceps fungus has been a staple of Chinese medicine for over 1,500 years and central to the zombie apocalypse on HBO’s hit The Last of Us. But how is it as a light snack? One TikTok user had the guts to try it out with an added zombie twist: ‘I grew it off my own blood and skin’
‘They all have this disgusting yellow tinge,’ TikTok user @Southernspore said, before taking a few long chews. ‘I’m not going to swallow it, but (um) it’s strangely sweet. I would eat it again’
‘I’d be interested to see how that taste compares to normal grown cordyceps,’ @southernspore, whose real name is believed to be Jacob Riley Hood, told his TikTok followers.
Hood extracted his own blood and used ripped, calloused skin from off the palms of his hands as the substrate upon which his ‘zombie mushrooms’ could feed.
After the cordyceps grew to a hardened puck of mycelium (a fungal root-like structure of hyphae), to about the size and appearance of a creepy coconut macaroon, Hood cut it open to look for the bits of his own skin supporting it all.
Next, he showed his TikTok followers what an ordinary mass of cordyceps looks like, grown off of a less Halloween-appropriate substrate.
‘This is what a normal grow looks like, compared to a human skin and blood grow,’ Hood explained.
After the cordyceps grew to a hardened puck of mycelium (a fungal root-like structure of hyphae), to about the size and appearance of a creepy coconut macaroon, TikTok user @Southernspore cut it open to look for the bits of his own skin supporting it all
Cordyceps growing off human blood and skin #cordyceps #lastofus #mushroomgrowing #educational
READ MORE: Here’s why mushrooms grow in a perfect ‘fairy circle’ – discovered by a woman who noticed the strange formation in her backyard
A woman was left baffled after noticing wild mushrooms growing in her yard in a perfect circle. She snapped a pic of the fungi and asked people online about the meaning behind the formation and got thousands talking. Many said they were left over from an old tree stump, others thought it could be due to a leak from an underground septic tank and some even suspected the supernatural
‘I’d definitely do this again,’ Hood opined, adding, ‘next time though, not with my own blood. Most likely animal blood would be easier to do than extracting my own blood.’
‘Bone and meat also would be an interesting experiment to do.’
Previous research — conducted by a team of more serious-minded academic medical researchers in Korea and Egypt — has shown the cordyceps fungus can be grown in a lab to more effectively and economically produce the compound cordycepin for use as a cancer treatment.
But because of the fungi’s spooky evolutionary history and penchant for feasting on the corpses of insects and other creatures, cordyceps will never lose its sci-fi/horror movie reputation.
Earlier this year, João Araújo, assistant curator in mycology at The New York Botanical Garden, explained to DailyMail.com that cordyceps previously evolved to allow the fungus to turn ants into zombies.
‘We hypothesize that around 45 million years ago, the fungus infected the first ant,’ Araujo said.
‘The cordyceps was [first] in beetles and then jumped to ants because both happened to be [in the same] tree trunk.’
Araújo added that around 35 ophiocordyceps fungi are known to turn insects into zombies, —and that these are found in the US, Brazil and Japan, as well as parts of Africa.
HBO’s The Last of Us has sparked fears of the real-world fungus causing the next pandemic, which van Rhijn said would not happen in our lifetime, but he also notes that we should ‘never say never.’
‘I am not going to say never, especially in this field when we’ve seen crazy things happen, especially how it is portrayed in the series it needs to overcome a lot of hurdles for a fungus like that to infect humans,’ he said.
But in the meantime, humans are perfectly capable of returning the flesh-eating favor, by enjoying some cordyceps and their health benefits themselves.
What are these killer mushrooms and what are they good for?
Cordyceps are types of parasitic fungus that infect and kill insects
The genus includes 600 different species, some of which have cancer-fighting properties
Cordyceps have shown to kill off many types of carcinoma cells, including those that cause ovarian, prostate, and colorectal cancers, as well as leukemia
The mushrooms can also help in recovery from the stresses of chemotherapy and other cancer treatments
Cordyceps are thought to increase the body’s production of the molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP), an essential compound for delivering energy to the muscles
They have also been shown to reduce fatigue and boost strength and sex drive
Cordyceps may also keep blood sugar levels within a healthy range by mimicking the action of insulin and may help treat diabetes.
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