1992 : World’s Largest Fungus Resides in Michigan

April 2, 2023 all-day

The Non-mycological world first became aware that one of Earth’s largest and oldest organisms was living in Michigan on this date in 1992. In the early 1990’s scientists discovered a giant fungus growing outside of Crystal Falls, near the Wisconsin border. The fungus was likely spawned by a single spore and currently covers an area of thirty eight acres and weighs roughly 100 tons. Scientists have estimated that this fungus (Armillaria bulbosa) is at least 1500 years old and is both one of the largest and oldest living things on Earth. The fungus is living underground and cannot be seen save for the small honey mushrooms that appear in the fall. However, the giant mass helps to clean up the environment, feeding on decayed wood and producing oxygen. This remarkable organism has an estimated growth rate of eight inches a year. After a story about Michigan’s super fungus appeared in a landmark issue of Nature in 1992, national attention began to increase. To celebrate and heighten awareness of its unique environmental and mycological attributes, the small town of Crystal Falls holds a Humongous Fungus Festival each August.

Source : Michigan Historical Calendar, courtesy of the Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University.

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