The family Clavicipitaceae may well be the most amazing family in the
entire fungal world. All of its members are obligate
parasites. Some attack plants, some attack animals and some attack
fungi. And their fructifications, arising as they do from the corpses of
their victims, present a most strange appearance.
It would appear that
Japan is the world centre for Clavicipitaceous diversity, since well
over 300 species of this family have been reported there. And,
fortunately for the rest of us, two eminent Japanese mycologists, Drs.
D. Shimizu and K. Kobayasi, have spent many years of their lives
documenting these strange organisms in a book which must surely be
regarded as a great mycological classic. I was fortunate to be
able to obtain a copy of this superb book during my visit to Japan in
Its title, rendered in
English, is "Illustrated Vegetable Wasps and Plant Worms in Colour"
(1997) ISBN 4-259-53866-7 [published by the Ie-No-Hikari Association, 11
Funagawara-cho, Ichigaya, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162, Japan], but its allure
springs not only from the sheer number of taxa considered, but from the
hundreds of wonderful full-colour paintings it contains. Because I
think all mycologists need this book in their personal libraries, I am
taking the liberty of reproducing several of the paintings on this page.
My recommendation is -
Find it. Buy it. Enjoy it. Treasure it.
The first picture
(Fig. 4, below) is of Cordyceps minuta, with its white Isaria anamorph
growing on a Hemipteran insect (a true bug).