Uncommon natural mushroom ‘Nilamanga’ discovered from termite mound in Palakkad | Nilamanga| natural mushroom| Nilamanga in Kerala

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Thachampara (Palakkad): The rare herb ‘Nilamanga’ found from a termite mound in a house in Machamthode has become a strange object for many. It was found from the grounds of Ubaidulla, a farmer.

Although ‘Nilamanga’ is similar in both name and form to ‘Manga’ (Malayalam word for mango), it has absolutely no connection with mango. In fact, ‘Nilamanga’ is a medicinal mushroom found in termite colonies and underground. The name comes from its shape, which resembles a tender mango with a stem.

Scientific information on Nilamanga can be found in the book ‘Oushadha Koonukal’ published by the MS Swaminathan Foundation in Puthurvayal in Wayanad. Scientifically known as Sclerotium stipitatum, ‘Nilamanga’ is also known locally as ‘Chithal Kizhangu’.

Because the mushroom grows in debris and termite mounds, it is termites’ favorite food. During the Malayalam months of Mithunam and Karkidakam, the mycelium of this mushroom comes out of the ground.

‘Nilamanga’ is rarely seen these days due to the overuse of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. When the houses with clay floors were replaced with concrete floors, the herb was destroyed. When the old houses were demolished for renovation, people did not notice the herbs and they were destroyed.

Due to the ignorance of the people, ‘Nilamanga’ is threatened with extinction. The new generation is completely unaware of the herb and its benefits, said Thachampara Agriculture Commissioner S. Anand. As this is a rare herb, ‘Nilamanga’ found from the compound of Ubaidulla is kept in the Thachampara Eco Shop. It is shown at agricultural exhibitions.

‘Nilamanga’ was a useful medicine during the cholera outbreak. Earache can be easily cured by pouring coconut oil heated with crushed ‘nilamanga’. According to the book ‘Oushadha Koonukal’, the mushroom is said to be a good medicine for coughing, jaundice, stomach pain, earache, eye diseases, vomiting and body aches.

Dried ‘Nilamanga’ is preserved at Peramangalloor mana in Ongallur in Pattambi. The family found the herb when the soil was being tilled for the renovation of the Bhadrakali Temple there. When they realized that it was a rare herb, they preserved it. Many people visit the residence to see it.