Thursday, August 9, 2007
Gigantic Fungus Eats Oregon
If most people were asked to name the biggest living thing on the planet, their answer would probably be "the blue whale." They would be very, very wrong. The largest organism on earth lives beneath a forest in Oregon. It's at least 2,000 years old; it's the size of 1,600 football fields; and it's really hungry.
Armillaria ostoyae is a fungus found throughout the US. But somehow Oregon's climate has allowed one particular specimen to grow to mammoth proportions. The 605-ton fungal colony lies hidden beneath the soil. The only signs of its presence are outcroppings of golden-brown mushrooms (shown above) and empty spots in the forest where Armillaria ostoyae has killed all the trees.
Though several volunteers have offered to "exterminate" the fungus, most scientists agree that little can be done to stop it. Unless a forest fire limits its growth, Armillaria ostoyae will keep eating its way through Oregon.
Read more here.