I saw a post on Instagram from my friend Shalini, who runs THE most fab homestay in Himachal.

It’s one of our homes away from home.

Or should it be “home away from homes”?

Anyway, back to the point.

Shalini shared some amazing photos on Instagram yesterday – to wit:

My first reaction was that this was some sort of lizard.

But then I read Shalini’s Insta post. This whatever-it-was on her stinging nettles was edible, apparently, and her cook remembers eating it as a child.

But no-one knew the name.

So, sitting here in Delhi, we did what we always do – we asked the Bahadurs. As fellow hill people.

They had no clue, other than being astonished that it wasn’t a lizard of sorts.

More photos ensued.

We Googled and Plantnet-ed away, wondering if this were a fruit a flower or…just maybe…a fungus.

Ta da!

It IS indeed a fungus, and, according to our research, it is called nettle rust.

Ta da! Mark II (it was found on nettles, I remind you)

Latin name “Puccinia urtica.”

The Puccinia sounds vaguely like an Italian pasta you’ve never heard of, right? But the “urtica” sounds – well – like urticaria (which spellcheck keeps trying to force on me!)

Weird looking lizardy-starfishy things:

And yes, of course, the $64,000 question – what does Puccinia urtica taste like?

It was eaten raw &, I quote “texture and taste a bit like water chestnut.”

So there you go. A little more knowledge for you. Courtesy of a Himalayan fungus.

Always fun to discover something new.

Oh yes, while you’re here, why not check out Shalini’s ceramics? She’s an artist of note. Sounds better than saying she’s potty, right?!

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