Where majority farmers in the hills disliked the last week’s nature fury (lighting and thunder) a few also found cheers in it. Virtually due to an unknown phenomenon caused by thunders and lighting ‘Gucchi’ Mushroom (botanical name: Morchella esculenta) or commonly known as morel mushroom sprouts these days. This phenomenon is so close to nature’s heart that most of the attempts of sprouting under controlled conditions have hardly found any results. It feels nature probably has kept this one for its poor and needy in the mountains.
Raju a domestic help makes his extra buck by collecting ‘Gucchis’ after a spell of thunder and lighting this season. Though not easy to identify this boy has a knack to find some in the jungles most of the time. The boy says that identifying its habitat is not everyone’s piece of cake.
Going by the locals knowledge ‘Gucchi’ is mostly found under a deodar (Himlayan Cidar) forest. However experts say that it can sprout in other places too. The mushroom needs moist, dark and shady environment which is usually under the deodar, thus adding weight to local’s myth.
Gucchi seekers set out in mid march for the lookout. Some even stay for weeks in jungles and return with bag full to add into their fortune. The popular saying in the hills is “if the spring in the hills is wet with frequent thunderstorms Gucchi can be found in plenty but again to be eyed only by the lucky ones.
Besides the commercial value Gucchi has its own properties. Like other edible mushrooms they contain the B complex, vitamin D and essential amino acids, but the morel mushrooms have an uncommon amino acid in them called cis-3-amino-l-proline. The polysaccharides have several medical properties including antiviral, immunoregulatory, anti-tumour growth effects and they give you more resistance to fatigue. Extracts from the polysaccharides have antioxidant effects and these morels can help prevent heart disease and colorectal cancer as well as having numerous other benefits. They are rich in minerals, potassium, zinc and iron and contain relatively high proportions of selenium which prevents free radical formations. These mushrooms potentially lower the risks of breast and prostate cancer too.
As per the city Gucchi dealers the price for this high property herb is going to be around 6000/- a kilogram this season. Where our state government does not even have any data or survey about the ‘Gucchi’ collectors market these local dealers claim that china has started its own ‘Gucchi’ production which has lowered the price.
But of course, just knowing this information is no substitute for attending a mushroom walk or foray as the fun of being around the jungle searching for ‘Gucchi/Cheu’ is a delight any day.