The giant mushroom in Oregon’s Malheur National Forest is the largest living organism on earth. The fungus is called Armillaria and is commonly known as “Honey Mushroom”…The national forest is home to several very large, very old, Mushroom genets (Mycelium Systems). A. Ostoyae is the largest mycelium colony covering more than 3.7 Square Miles of forest floor and conifer root systems. Largest Organism On Earth A. Ostoyae mostly exists under the surface in the form of mycelium, thriving on soil and infected root systems. Trees infected by the fungus rot slowly, and different stages of rot can be seen ranging from oldest at the center of the mycelium to newly infected at the edges. Honey Mushrooms only fruit on newly dead trees and colonized trees that are still alive, but the mycelium continues to feed on the decaying trees for years after they fall. Forest fires can damage fungus, but the resulting new growth only helps feed the mycelium colony with fresh trees for years to come. Mushrooms are powerhouses when it comes to decomposition, making Mycoremediation a vital tool in fighting climate change!
How Old Is The Largest Living Organism
Accurately guessing A. Ostoyae’s age is very difficult, the most agreed-upon range is 2000-9000 years old, a pretty wide range. The age estimates are based on recorded yearly growth records, ranging from 1-3 feet per year. The colonies haven’t always been this large, and scientists don’t know exactly what contributed to these colonies growing so large. One theory is that a recent man-made fire regime in the forest has provided an incredible environment for the Honey Mushroom. It is possible that this colony could be immortal now that it is so large, by rotting all the wood around it the fungus has built a shield of sorts. This stretch of rotten wood protects the fungus from ever dying completely from natural causes. The mushroom life cycle is truly magic, proving very resistant.
What Defines An Organism
When talking about the world’s largest organisms you have to decide what exactly qualifies as an individual organism. To qualify as an organism colony must be made up of, genetically identical cells that can communicate, and that have a common purpose or can at least coordinate themselves. Humongous Fungus These giant mushroom colonies are newly discovered, and we learn more about them all the time. We have come to realize that these giant fungal colonies are not nearly as rare as we thought they might be pretty common. When you think about a mushroom farm growing mass quantities of button mushrooms, with identical genetics, that’s a giant fungus. These humongous fungus colonies are an important part of nature, playing a vital role in their environments. This article contains affiliate links.