The Biggest Living Thing

The largest living thing is a mushroom? – Interesting facts

No, it’s not a blue whale, or a California coastal redwood.

There are two candidates: a fungus called Armillaria ostoye and an Aspen tree named Populus tremuloides.

The Armillaria lives in Oregon, and covers 2,385 acres (that’s not quite 10 square km). It’s a clonal growth, estimated to be 2,400 years old, and might weigh 35,000 tons. It’s often called the ‘Humongous Fungus.’ Its home is the Malheur National Forest in Oregon.

Aspen - Wikipedia

The Aspen tree is called the Pando, and covers about 106 acres on a Utah hillside. The Pando has maybe 40,000 trunks, but all are genetic clones of the same male tree, and all are interconnected underground by their root system. Pando is about 80,000 years old.

Pando is dying. The yearly sprouts it needs to keep on going are enthusiastically eaten by elk and mule deer, and ranchers are allowed to graze cattle in Pando for two weeks every year.

Armillaria seems to be in somewhat better shape, but it may be affected by pending climate change.

It’s quite possible that there are even bigger living things, perhaps in the Congo basin, Brazil’s Amazon or in the Russian or Canadian taiga.

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