‘Hundreds miles of pine trees spread green shade; their wrinkled skin and irony limbs look like dragons. On the remote mountains a lad picks medical herbs; there is a huge tuckahoe he finds.’ It is an ode for Panzhihua tuckahoe form the ancients.
A list of tributes, including ‘one silver-pedestal bronze Budda statue, five tuckahoes and five and five rhizoma acori gramineis etc’, which are offered up to the emperor from a local chieftain, is recorded in local chronicle of Panzhihua. In the thirty-eighth year of the republic of China, Zhuge Shihuai, a bully in Yanbian County (part of Panzhihua City today), wanted to be promoted to garrison commander of the upper reaches of Jinsha River, so he presented some gifts to Hu Zongnan, the general guarding there, and his gifts included tuckahoes, bear biles and snake galls etc. The tuckahoe has a sweet taste and neutral nature, so it is good for the heart, lung, spleen, and kidney, especially for clearing damp and promoting diuresis or tranquilizing hearts and soothing the nerves. Tuckahoes grow across the country, and why those from Panzhihua are so popular?
It has always been believed that ‘porias’ growing in Yunnan are top-grade tuckahoes. However, the tuckahoes in Panzhihua region are better than the ‘porias’. Growing under the roots of big tall pinus yunnanensises with rich resin, they are famous for thick flesh, fine texture and white color. Local people always find them under the roots of a hundred years old pine trees. They are extremely big, with weights up to twenty or thirty kilograms, and are characterized by rich nutrition and good pesticide effect. The annual output of tuckahoes in Panzhihua can be up to tens of thousands of kilograms.
It is said tuckahoes are foods of celestial beings in old times. In ancient novels, celestial beings or necromancers drink amrita and eat tuckahoes. The ancients believed that tuckahoes could preserve one's health and prolong life. Su Dongpo has a poem that goes ‘I am just a guest for the world, but I plant this long-living pine tree. There is still no message about tuckahoes, and my grey temples can not wait’. Cao Xueqin also depicted tuckahoes in his ‘Dream of Red Mansions’. As an herbal cuisine, tuckahoes can be found in tuckahoe jelly and tuckahoe porridge as well as in health food for infants. As a traditional Chinese medicine, tuckahoes are even more popular.