to a mushroom with an unusual aromatic quality.
Pardon me if this is old news,
but I thought it would be of interest to at least a few friends here:
Another article, with an incongruous accompanying photo:
>From MushRumors, Vol. 41, No. 3, May-June 2002
MUSHROOMS AND MAUI - PART II
Note: In the last issue, our intrepid Field Trip Chair was braving the
elements in an effort to find mushrooms on Maui. During his search, he
came across John Holliday, a cultivator of medicinal mushrooms. John
set him to locations and told him much about the Hawaiian mushroom
scene. This included giving Ben a paper on his research of a Hawaiian
Dictyphora. What follows was gleaned mostly from this paper and
conversations with John.
MAMALU O WAHINE
Perhaps the most interesting Hawaiian mushroom story involves legend
meeting reaity in the kipuka ecosystems of the Big Island. There is an
ancient legend in the Hawaiian Islands of a mushroom with peculiar
properties. The legend is known throughout the high islands of
Polynesia, the islands of Tahiti, Samoa, Rarotonga and the Marquesas
and in various forms throughout the world; all have similar tales. It
tells of women who encounter this mushroom in the forest and go into
fits of sexual ecstasy. Mushrooms: they are not just for dinner.
Kipukas are areas that have older vegetation than the surrounding
areas. This is the result of lava flows covering the surrounding
areas, missing the kipuka and sparing its vegetation. As a result,
there is a very large difference in the species and their size between
the outside and inside of a kipuka. Kipukas tend to be found in hot,
dry areas with a climate that almost mandates fast life cycles for
fungal species. A fungus similar to Dictyphora indusiata is one such
The tropical version of D. indusiata must spread its spores via
insects. To attract insects to the kipuka rapidly and over great
distances, the lifetime of the fungus is often only three to four
hours, and its flesh is very pungent (so pungent, in fact, that it
attracts species other than insects).
It has been reported that women living on the Big Island gather to
seek out this fungus because its odor is arousing when sniffed. John
Holliday came across a nurse in a doctor's office whose mother
apparently engaged in this activity. This woman was curious if John
knew shy her mother and friends went out smelling mushrooms on Sunday
In an attempt to confirm or deny the reputed effects, John Holliday
offered a fresh specimen for sniffing to a nubmer of randomly chosen
subjects, both male and female. Of 20 males who took part, all found
the smell repulsive and declined any further testing. No physiological
responses were noted in any of the male test subjects. Women, however,
found the smell pleasant. In a controlled clinical trial involving 16
women, six had orgasms while smelling the fruiting body of the fungus.
The other 10 experienced physiological changes, most notably increased
heart rates. These 10 received smaller doses, so it is possible their
responses were dose-related (I have a copy of a paper on this trial by
John Holliday and Noah Soule.) According to John, the results suggest
that the hormone-like compounds present in the volatile portion of the
spore mass may have some similarity to human neurotransmitters
released in females during sexual encounters.
The occurrence of mammalian pheromoes in the fungal kingdom is not
unprecedented. The tuber genus contains the chemical
alpha-androstenol. Attempts to isolate and identify the compounds in
the Dictyphora sp. with a gas chromatograph/mass spectrometer have
thus far failed.
As with the morels and boletes, I was unable to obtain any first-hand
validation. First, I was on Maui, not the Big Isaldn. Second, this was
my honeymoon and I thought such a mushroom experiment could have been
a deal breaker.
The legend says that only when the gods are pleased will they bring
forth this magical plant, the Mamalo o Wahine, the mushroom that makes
women go made with desire. And only if a woman leads a good and
virtuous life will the gods reward her with this special treat just
for her pleasure. Of course, you could lead a non-virtuous life and
get in the next clinical trial.
The above paragraphs are not a paid advertisement of the Hawaiian
Strange Mushroom Scent Triggers Female Orgasms? | Aphrodisiology: The Study of Aphrodisiacs
If indeed there is a variety with erotic olfactory effects,
does anyone have experience with stinkhorn cultivation?