I have asked a lot of Bolivian choclo vendors about Ustilago. This one told us something I had never heard before, but which may go a long way toward explaining why the fungus is not prized for the table in Bolivia. There is a kind of superstition deriving from a folk tale about a woman who died, whose body was taken from her pueblo to a neighboring one without her pueblo’s knowledge or consent, with Ustilago ominously appearing at some location to somehow mark the crime. Her accent was thick with Quechua and difficult to understand (alas, our micoamiga, Telma, was not yet around to translate).

The woman was apprehensive about even being seen with the infected ear, which she went to retrieve from an out-of-site location after we described what we were looking for. After giving us the chance to photograph it, she would hold it low in her lap throughout our conversation, which was told in a hushed tone of voice for fear of others overhearing.

Very keen on returning to this spot and having the story recorded and/or interpreted by a native speaker.

Host: Zea mays

Habitat: unknown

Ecoregion: unknown

Collectors: D. Newman, P. Kaishian, L. Deininger, D. Ettlinger & T. Padilla

Collection #: MISC002

Species Lists


Copyright © 2014 Patty Kaishian
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Created: 2017-05-12 12:43:01 PDT (-0700)
Last modified: 2017-05-12 12:43:22 PDT (-0700)
Viewed: 37 times, last viewed: 2019-10-06 01:26:17 PDT (-0700)
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