BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- A wild mushroom reportedly capable of restoring virility and enhancing fertility is causing quite a scramble among tourists in western Yugoslavia.
Hundreds of foreign visitors, mostly men, are tramping through fields and forests in search of the morel (Morchella Esculanta), which grows in the region around Mount Romanija in the Yugoslav republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Yugoslav news agency Tanjug said Friday.
While the claim of restoring sexual prowess may be open to debate, the humble morel's powers to invigorate the tourist trade is beyond question.
Villagers tell visitors of the wife of a retired woodcutter who had 12 children, the last one when she was 57. Or there's 101-year-old Zada Smajic, mother of 10, whose husband died a few years ago but was 'full of vigor until his last day.'
The fungus grows mostly around in the village of Preljubovici, meaning 'adulterers,' and is named after a Turkish governor several centuries ago who is said to have discovered the mushroom's powers and used them to great advantage.
The alleged aphrodisiac qualities of the morel have become known only in recent years because, so the story goes, the governor made local villagers swear a solemn oath not to reveal his secret.
But as the word spreads so do the business deals and a firm in the neighboring town of Sokolac is planning to export the mushroom for $186 a pound.