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Omajowa mushrooms John L.Godlee

Found at: republic.circumlunar.space:70/~johngodlee/posts/2022-02-18-omajowa.txt

TITLE: Omajowa mushrooms
DATE: 2022-02-18
AUTHOR: John L. Godlee
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While driving from Windhoek to Etosha National Park, in Namibia, 
there were lots of vendors at the side of the road holding up 
mushrooms for sale. Specifically, they were selling the Omajowa 
mushroom, pronounced omayova, Termitomyces schimperi. In Afrikaans 
and German they are also referred to as Termitenpilz. They are in 
the family Agaricales.

Omajowa grows on termite mounds of the species Macrotermes 
michaelseni. These mushrooms grow across southern Africa, but I 
think are particularly common in northern Namibia. The mushroom was 
first described in Ethiopia by Patouillard in 1891.

The mushrooms are very large. The ones I saw were up to 30 cm 
diameter when fully opened.

They need to be picked quickly once they have emerged, otherwise 
they get infested by insects and get sand blown into the gills.

[van der Westhuizen and Eicker 
(1991)](https://doi.org/10.1016/S0254-6299(16%2930986-3) describe 
the mushroom as having a firm and fleshy pileus, expanding to 
convex-applanate, with crowded free gills creamy white to pinkish. 
The spore print is brownish-pink. The emerging mushroom is about 
the size of a fist. The fully emerged mushroom can be up to 50 cm 
tall.

The mushrooms emerge after heavy rains, mostly between January and 
March. The mushrooms are very common around Otjiwarongo and 
Okahandja.

The name Omajowa is used by both the Herero and Ovambo people.

People from Windhoek often pick up these mushrooms from vendors on 
the road between Windhoek and Okahandja. The mushrooms have a 
fleshy texture and a strong nutty taste. The mushrooms can be 
barbecued as steaks, like portobello mushrooms, or chopped up and 
fried with lots of butter, salt and pepper then eaten on toast.

The large mushroom in the picture below was being sold for 20 
namibian dollars, or about £1.

  ![Fully open 
mushroom](https://johngodlee.xyz/img_full/omajowa/open.jpg)

  ![Closed 
mushroom](https://johngodlee.xyz/img_full/omajowa/closed.jpg)

  ![More omajowa 
mushrooms](https://johngodlee.xyz/img_full/omajowa/omajowa.jpg)


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