This Fungus is a 2,384 Acre Tree-Eating Machine

Factorialist - This Armillaria ostoyae Fungus is a 2,384 Acre 8,000 year-old Tree-Eating Machine

Deep in the Blue Mountains of Oregon lies a parasitic fungus widely recognized as the world’s largest organism. At over 2.4 miles across, occupying 2,384 acres of soil, it essentially covers 1,665 football fields worth of land.

The parasitic Armillaria ostoyae, or honey Fungus, colonizes and kills conifers by growing along their roots. Extending out thin filaments called hyphae, the fungus secretes acidic enzymes, digesting and dissolving its host. The sprawling web-like hyphae make up the fungi’s mycelium network.

Factorialist - This Armillaria ostoyae Fungus is a 2,384 Acre 8,000 year-old Tree-Eating Machine

Large conifers die-offs above ground, in a region spaced up to 2.4 miles apart, indicated to researchers a common culprit below ground. When tested, they discovered a genetically identical killer, a single organism.

Based on its current growth rate, the fungus is estimated to be 2,400 years old but could be as ancient as 8,650 years. While an accurate estimate has not been made, the total weight of the colony may be as much as 605 tons.

Factorialist - This Armillaria ostoyae Fungus is a 2,384 Acre 8,000 year-old Tree-Eating Machine
Malheur National Forest in Oregon

An individual organism is defined by biologists as being made up of genetically identical cells that can communicate, and that have a common purpose or can at least coordinate themselves. By that definition, this monstrous tree-eating mushroom takes the belt for world’s largest, dwarfing the 110-foot long 200-ton blue whale.

SourceBBC
Photoage fotostock Spain, S.L. / Alamy
IllustrationFactorialist*

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