June 27, 2019

Giant Fungus discovered in China

Professor Yu-Cheng Dai poses with some fragments of his giant fungus. This is one happy academic.

The biggest fruiting body of any fungus yet documented has been discovered growing on the underside of a tree in China.

The fruiting body, which is equivalent to the mushrooms produced by other fungi species, is up to 10m long, 80cm wide and weighs half a tonne. It is thought to be at least 20 years old and is estimated to hold some 450 million spores.

That beats the size record held previously by a fungus growing in Kew Gardens in the United Kingdom.

Professor Yu-Cheng Dai of the Herbarium of biology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shenyang and his assistant Dr Cui were in the field studying wood-decaying fungi (as you do) when they happened upon the specimen, which they describe in the journal Fungal Biology.

“We were not specifically looking for this fungus; we did not know the fungus can grow so huge,” he said.

“We were surprised when we found it, and we did not recognise it in the forest because it is too large.”

The fungus, F. ellipsoidea, is what mycologists call a perennial polypore – otherise known as a bracket fungus.

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By colonising the underside of the large fallen tree, the fungus also had a huge amount of dead and decaying wood to feed on, helping to fuel its growth.