4 Fungi Facts That Might Surprise You

James Holding Reishi
James with two freshly harvested Oregon Reishi mushrooms (Ganoderma oregonense); one is a "double".

This article is part of a 3-part series on medicinal mushrooms.
Read Part 1

Read Part 2

1. A “humongous fungus” is the largest known living organism on earth.

A Honey Mushroom (Armillaria ostoyae) mycelium growing in the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon was found to cover an area of 3.5 square miles! It is estimated to weigh 7 to 35 tons and to be 2,000 to 8,000 years old.

2. Mushrooms and other fungi are more closely related to us than to green plants.

The main evolutionary difference between the fungi and animal kingdoms is that animals have internal digestive tracts, while fungi still absorb their food and nutrition through their entire outside surface.

3. Because we are so closely related, fungi catch many of the same infectious diseases as humans.

Interestingly, the substances that fungi make to protect themselves can protect us as well.

4. Some fungi are bioluminescent and glow in the dark with a green light (see photo below).

Scientists suspect that they developed this biolumunescence to attract insects which help spread the mushroom’s spores. The bioluminescence is strongest at night, when conditions are best for spore germination. Of around 100,000 fungal species, only about 80 are known to be bioluminescent.

A Jack-O-Lantern Mushroom (Omphalotus olearius) glowing in the dark.

Bring the Power of Oregon's Wild Medicinal Mushrooms Into Your Kitchen

Wild Medicinal Mushroom Mix

A blend of five different wild medicinal Poplypore fungi, which we have sustainably harvested from healthy Pacific Northwest forests, carefully dried, and finely shredded.

Great for making teas and broths.

Mushroom Leaf Print

Recommended Mushroom Field Guides

All That the Rain Promises and More
by David Aurora (a pocket field guide for the western USA) ISBN: 0-89815-388-3.

Mushrooms Demystified
by David Aurora (a field guide and reference book for North America, with an emphasis on California) ISBN: 0-89815-169-4.

The Audubon Field Guide to North American Mushrooms
by Gary H. Lincoff (covers all of North America) ISBN: 0-394-51992-2.

Reference Books on Medicinal Mushrooms

Medicinal Mushrooms: An Exploration of Tradition, Healing and Culture
by Christopher Hobbs (ISBN: 1-57067-143-5).

The Fungal Pharmacy: The Complete Guide to Medicinal Mushrooms and Lichens of North America
by Robert Rogers (ISBN: 978-1-55643-953-7).

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