- The Washington Times - Monday, April 13, 2009

ITHACA, N.Y. (AP) - Cornell University is giving China back a precious trove of mushrooms smuggled to the United States at the start of World War II.

Shu Chun Teng (tung) was China’s premier expert on fungi after studying at Cornell in the 1920s. He spent a decade traveling on horseback through his homeland, gathering up molds, lichens, yeasts, rusts and morels.

During the Japanese attack on Nanking in 1937, Teng had his most essential specimens removed from his botany institute there to save them from destruction. They were smuggled by ox cart to Indochina and then by sea to the United States and eventually Cornell in 1940.

In a ceremony Monday, Cornell President David Skorton presented a high-level Chinese delegation with one of the rare mushrooms.

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