Prof. Tibuhwa and Dr. Hussein discover a distinctive species of edible and medicinal mushroom

Mon, 20.May.2024 14.22

By Special Correspondent, CMU

University of Dar es Salaam dons and researchers, Prof. Donatha Tibuhwa and Dr. Juma Mahmud Hussein have discovered a distinctive edible and medicinal mushroom, Kusaghizi, in the Western Usambara mountains of Tanzania, which exhibits remarkable characteristics, including being a food source for local communities.

According to Prof. Tibuhwa, the new genus and species mushroom, which is now scientifically named as Kusaghiporia usambarensis, has fruit-bodies that are astonishingly large, reaching diameters of up to 60 cm and weighing up to 10 kg at maturity. ”Its remarkable size allows one mushroom to be shared among up to four families”.

“Locally, this mushroom is referred to as Kusaghizi in Sambaa, signifying a collector or accumulator. This name aptly mirrors its ability to thrive on both dry and fresh leaves of shrubs, demonstrating adaptability by growing on various surfaces, including those that may accidentally come into contact with it, such as snakes and insects”, said Prof. Tibuhwa.

Prof. Tibuhwa said that Kusaghizi held a significant value as a food source for local communities and was particularly known for its fleshy texture and chicken-like taste. “Beyond its culinary uses, herbalists utilize dried mushroom powder, either mixed with warm water, incorporated into porridge, or combined with other herbs to create a concoction which serves as a remedy for ailments such as diabetes and high blood pressure”.

She added that “the distinct qualities and intriguing properties of “Kusaghizi” have sparked further research interest among researchers from the University of Dar es Salaam and Uppsala University in Sweden”.

Assigning a distinct classification

Dr. Hussein, another scientist involved in this research, said that the scientific research results unveiled that the mushroom was previously unknown to science. “In response to this newfound information, it was deemed appropriate to assign it a distinct classification as a new genus and species to science, officially identified as Kusaghiporia usambarensis Hussein J, Tibell S & Tibuhwa DD ( and so far uniquely known from Tanzania”.

“The nomenclature pays tribute to the local Sambaa name (Kusaghizi) and the geographical origin where the mushroom flourishes. This dual homage not only reflects a commitment to acknowledging local wisdom but also serves to anchor the mushroom within its cultural and ecological context”, said Dr. Hussein.

Prof. Tibuhwa noted that the discovery was due to the effective collaboration between researchers at the University of Dar es Salaam and the local community residing around the Usambara Mountains. “Indeed, the involvement of the local community in the process is a great example of how scientific research can benefit from the indigenous knowledge and involvement of local residents”.