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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Fungi
Division: Ascomycota
Subphylum: Pezizomycotina
Class: Pezizomycetes
Order: Pezizales
Family: Terfeziaceae


The Terfeziaceae, or desert truffles, is a family of truffles endemic to arid and semi-arid areas of the Mediterranean Region, North Africa, and the Middle East, where they live in ectomycorrhizal association with Helianthemum species and other ectomycorrhizal plants (including Cistus, oaks, and pines). This group consists of three genera: Terfezia, Tirmania, and Mattirolomyces. They are a few centimetres across and weigh from 30 to 300 grams (1-10 oz). They are often used as a culinary ingredient, although due to their rarity they are very expensive.


Habitat and ecology

Desert truffles, as the name suggests, predominantly grow in the desert. It is commonly said that they are formed where lightning strikes the desert sands, since they are not the most common of fungi (thus justifying their cost).

Culinary use and commercial importance

Desert truffles do not have the same flavour as European truffles, but tend to be more common and thus more affordable. Whereas forest truffles typically cost $100 per kilogram, and Italian truffles may sell for up to $2200 per kilogram, desert truffles have been sold in Riyadh for $26.75 per kilogram.[citation needed] (Prices in 2002 US Dollars)

Vernacular names

Desert truffles go by several different names.In Turkey they are called "Keme", In Morocco they are called terfez, in Egypt the Bedouin of the Western Desert call them terfas. The Kuwaitis call them fagga, the Saudis faq'h, and in Syria they are known by their classical Arabic name, kamaa. Iraqis call them kamaa, (or kima or chima depending on local dialects) and in Oman they are either faqah or zubaydi. The Hebrew word is kmehin. In southern Spain, they are known as turmas, though the more common Spanish term is "trufa."

In Saudi Arabia, there are two varieties; khalasi are oval with a black skin and a pinkish-ivory interior, and zubaidi have a cream colour but are generally more expensive.

Species list

  • Terfezia arenaria
  • Terfezia boudieri
  • Terfezia claveryi
  • Terfezia leptoderma
  • Terfezia terfezioides (Mattirolomyces terfezioides)
  • Tirmania nivea
  • Tirmania pinoyi


  • Dıéz J, Manjón JL, Martin F. (2002) Molecular phylogeny of the mycorrhizal desert truffles (Terfezia and Tirmania), host specificity and edaphic tolerance. Mycologia 94(2):247–259.
  • Feeney, John. (2002). Desert truffles galore. Saudi Aramco World, September/October 2002.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Terfeziaceae". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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