Does a mushroom live or not

The world's largest living being

Monster creatures in the underground

The largest known creature in the world is a mushroom and extends over nine square kilometers, the equivalent of a little more than 1200 soccer fields. The monster creature was only discovered in 2000. Because it lives underground.

The giant hallimash has been growing in the soil of the Malheur National Forest in Oregon, USA, for 2,400 years. Only on stumps and trunks does the stand mushroom show its yellowish hats, which are about twelve centimeters high.

The mega-mushroom hides most of its enormous body under the earth. It reaches almost a meter deep.

The dark honey fungus (Armillaria ostoyae) eats its way very slowly from tree to tree through the forest floor and bores its way through the soil by pushing black-brown, millimeter-thick threads.

These so-called rhizomorphs can be longer than three meters and form the cohesive network called mycelium, which now extends for kilometers.

His favorite food is conifers

On his way, the giant becomes a killer. As soon as the fungal threads have penetrated a tree, the honey mushroom absorbs water, sugar and other nutrients.

His favorite foods are conifers such as firs and Douglas firs. The trees form wound tissue to fight off the parasite. If this does not succeed, the fungus crawls further and further up the trunk. Whitish slime coats the inside of the bark, the tree dies.

The fact that the Hallimasch of Oregon could reach its enormous size is explained by the mushroom experts with the dry climate in the east of the state. Because it rains so little there, the fruiting bodies rarely come out of the ground. Without fruiting bodies, the honey fungus cannot reproduce sexually, there is no offspring, so that the old mushroom finds space to expand unchecked.

The researchers around forest scientist Catherine Parks discovered the giant with the help of aerial photographs. In areas where the forest was sick, they collected 112 samples of fungal roots. The surprising finding during the genetic analysis: 61 of the samples came from the same Hallimasch.

When they plotted their values ​​on a map, it dawned on the researchers what a giant they had come across. It weighs an estimated 600 tons - more than four blue whales.

The wolverine also has its good sides: The dark honey fungus not only infects healthy plants, but also eats dead wood and thus recycles the organic material.

The Hallimasch is also abundant in German forests, if not on the American scale. It is a popular edible mushroom. However, raw it is poisonous. And even thoroughly cooked mushrooms can lead to intolerances.

Where the German name comes from - there are contradicting statements. Some derive it from "Heil im Arsch". Because it is said to have a healing effect on hemorrhoids. The others, however, assume that it comes from "Hell in the ass", because raw or undercooked mushrooms have a strong laxative effect.