The Largest Organism In The World Is A Fungus

“Your shower shoes have fungus on them. You’ll never make it to the bigs with fungus on your shower shoes.” —Bull Durham

In A Nutshell

The world’s largest living thing isn’t an elephant, a whale, or a giant squid—it’s a fungus. It lives in the Blue Mountains of Oregon, and it makes the blue whale look like an insect—the Armillaria ostoyae specimen takes up over 2,000 acres.

The Whole Bushel

The most gigantic, and maybe the most ancient, organism on Earth resides in the Blue Mountains of the US state of Oregon. It lives underground, and has killed scores of living things in its possible thousands of years of existence. No, it’s not a gigantic ogre—it’s a mushroom-producing fungus the size of 1,600 football fields, and it wipes out trees by the hundreds.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Clearing out old and weak growth plays an essential role in such an ecosystem to make room for new and stronger trees. Plus, nobody could kill this monster even if they wanted to: Scientists first caught on to the potential enormity of the fungus after discovering one individual growth that weighed 100 tons.

The only outward signs of the lurking, hulking fungus other than dead trees are the sweet, golden mushroom it produces above ground, known as “honey mushrooms” for obvious reasons. In addition to its ridiculous size, estimates of the thing’s age range anywhere from around 2,000 to over 8,000 years, potentially ranking it among the world’s oldest living things as well. Like the incredibly old trees in the neighboring White Mountains of California, the environment in this region has remained stable for a long geological period, contributing to its ability to sustain and grow itself for millennia. It’s certainly not the first such gigantic fungus to be discovered, either—this one has a little brother in Washington, a 1,500-acre behemoth that was discovered in 1992.

Show Me The Proof

Strange but True: The Largest Organism on Earth Is a Fungus
The world’s largest organism