Sunday, August 5, 2012

Fungus Among Us: Honey Fungus.

(Stupid thing didn't publish. I don't know why, but it didn't at first.) 

Welp, the power came on right after we went out to get a generator. Fancy that.  Looks like I get to continue with Fungus Among Us, which could be good for some of you and downright terrifying for others. Without further ado, let us look at today's terrifying...jaw-dropping...

Aww, aren't they cute? I mean, cute for mushrooms. They're called "honey mushrooms" due to the color, and Armillaria solidipes  otherwise. They are found throughout the northern hemisphere, particularly in the Pacific northwest. They loooove feeding on pine trees and have their own blight.

Let's be honest, here: These are not impressive-looking mushrooms. They're cute and yellow. Yes, they feed on wood like many a fungus.  On the plus side, they're safe for work.

Thing is, remember: Those mushrooms are only the fruiting bodies. It's impossible to judge the size of the whole fungus by the size of what are effectively its genitalia. While we humans tend to judge 'size' based on junk, this is an extremely poor way to gauge the size of an organism that has most of its body underground. Big mushrooms do not make a big fungal organism. In fact...

Somewhere in this forest is a HUGE mushoom.

...those tiny little mushrooms? They belong to the single largest, and possibly longest-lived, organism in the world. Forget the blue whale; if a mass of these things in Malheur National Forest,  Oregon are indeed one organism, it spans 2,000+ acres. We aren't even going to try and weigh that. Again, if it is indeed one organism, it is also 2,400 years old, making even tuataras and Galapagos tortoises whippersnappers by comparison. It only got that huge because there was very little competition for land and resources.

Do not, however, try this at home. Outside of being crazy and massive, these mushrooms are dangerous to trees -  Douglas firs in particular. They can remain on a tree for up to 50 years and are very, very hard to remove entirely. Please to not be trying to make a Guinness Record out of this.

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