Cordyceps has been derived from the Latin word cord (club) and ceps( head).
The fungus has a long history of use in Tibetan history dating as far back as the 15th century.
Also the attached mycelium of the cordyceps and the mushroom has been in use in Chinese medicinal practices for centuries.
The fungus mostly grows in the wild at an elevation of above 2000 meters in Tibet and China.
The fungus is known to attack the caterpillar while it feeds on the roots.
The fungus enters the body of the caterpillar, and fills it with mycelia, eventually killing it.
In early spring or late summers, the dark brown to black mushroom grows out of the head of the caterpillar.
The fruit or the mushroom may reach up to 5-15 cm above the ground level.
The fungus is mostly found in the mountains of Tibet, China, India and Nepal.
It usually grows at very high altitudes above 2000 meters and as such is difficult to harvest for the medicinal uses of the fungus.
The fungus however appears annually and the normal harvesting season is between April and August.
The caterpillar displays signs of the fungal infection underground during spring and when the snow thaws during late spring and summer, it becomes easier to spot.
The chemical constituents in Cordyceps include nucleosides such as adenosine, adenine, hypoxanthicine nucleoside, uracil, thymine, uridine, guanidine, thymidine, 3'-deoxyadenosine; sterides such as ergosterol peroxide, cholesteryl palmitate, eogosterol; polysaccharides such as galactomannan; alkanols such as D-mannitol. The fungus also contains crude proteins, amino acids and vitamins.
The mushroom or the fruit that grows out of the caterpillar is primarily used for its varied medicinal purposes.