The Facebook page “Hippie House,” a community “founded to bring light and positivity to our followers through original content, art, and inspiring articles” and financially supported by selling “the best cultural gifts, handmade art, and products to our online store” shared a rather risible meme last week. (Even for hippies.)
No, dear reader, that is not a real image of a tree-size mushroom. But, the meme is not completely incorrect, either. The text of the image states “there’s a giant mushroom in Oregon’s Malheur National Forest with a root system that covers over 2,200 acres, making it the largest living organism in the world.”
In 2000, the fungus Armillaria ostoyae (aka “honey mushroom,” or as TWS digital editor Jonathan V. Last calls them—and all mushrooms—"the hornets of the flora world"), was declared the largest living organism found on earth, spreading through 2,200 acres of Malheur National Forest. But the actual stem and cap of the fungus don’t grow beyond 20-ish centimeters in height.
Ironically, instead of growing to the size of a tree, this fungus actually kills them.
(One Facebook user pondered “how many bite marks are on it” in the comment section, another suggested “let's eat it!!!” TWS Fact Check feels obligated to warn frequenters of “Hippie House” not to consume raw Armillaria ostoyae.)
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