TITLE: Omajowa mushrooms
AUTHOR: John L. Godlee
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
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
The mushrooms emerge after heavy rains, mostly between January and
March. The mushrooms are very common around Otjiwarongo and
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.