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Yoga mchwa

The sakulwihe or yoga mchwa mushroom variety (Termitomyces clypeatus) belongs to a group of fungi commonly called “termite mushrooms.” It is an edible mushroom that has high nutritional value. It is a fungus that usually grows in termite hills in the forests. The minute mycelium stage of the fungus is carried into the termite hills, where the fungus assists in breaking down cellulose in wood that the termites use as a food source. They remain in this stage until triggered, usually by a large amount of rain, to grow through the roof of the termite nest and burst onto the surface as fully formed mushrooms.   Sakulwihe mushrooms grow during the rainy season, which is usually from December to July. Their color is whitish-brown or gray which makes them inconspicuous from a far distance. When they germinate they are said to be ready for harvest. During harvesting, care is needed to ensure a product that can be successfully sold, because these mushrooms are known to be delicate and easily broken. Mushrooms are collected both for local sales and personal consumption.   Locals of the southern part of Tanzania enjoy fresh sakulwihe two to three times per week. It is described as having a taste similar to the tongue of a cow when cooked in soup or stir-fried. In times of plenty, the locals harvest the sakulwihe, cut them into pieces, sundry or smoke them and store them to be eaten during off-seasons. The dried mushrooms are soaked in water for some time, and when soft enough, they are ready to be cooked. The locals in Mbeya and Iringa in the southern part of Tanzania, eat the mushroom as soup with rice or ugali (cornmeal). Today, however, the future of sakulwihe is under threat due to a degraded habitat due to climate change and human development activity, with a lack of initiatives for restoration.

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