The Humongous Fungus Among us

A. gallica sprouting as honey mushroomsJames B. Anderson

It’s nicknamed the “humongous fungus”—an unusually large fungal growth belonging to a single genetic individual. An updated analysis of this gigantic fungal beast shows it’s substantially larger and older than scientists initially thought.

When University of Toronto biologist James B. Anderson first studied this large growth in 1992, he was astounded by its sheer size. Anderson and his colleagues estimated that it was 1,500 years old, weighed 100,000 kilograms (110 tons) and covered around 37 acres (15 hectares) of forest floor in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula…

Looking at hundreds of samples taken from 2015 to 2017, Anderson had to revise his earlier estimates. As he points out in his updated study, the gigantic fungus is actually closer to 2,500 years old and it weighs around 400,000 kilograms, or 440 tons. The growth covers about 173 acres (70 hectares), which is roughly the same size as the total floor area of the Pentagon building.

The estimate, BTW, is deliberately kept to the lower bounds. Phew!

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