Think portobello mushrooms are big? Think again. Scientists on Hainan Island in southern China have discovered the largest fungus ever recorded. Weighing in at around half a ton, and extending over thirty feet in length, fungus experts were shocked to discover the fruiting body (comparable to a mushroom in other fungal species) feeding on the underside of a large fallen tree.
The fungus is from the species Fomitiporia ellipsoidea, and is a so-called perennial polypore, or bracket fungus. Up top is a picture of Professor Yu-Cheng Dai holding "small" fragments of the polypore that have broken off from the larger fruiting body.
"We were not specifically looking for this fungus," said Dai, who is an expert on bracket fungi. "We did not know the fungus can grow so huge."
The tree on which the fungus is feeding, which appears to be long-dead and largely decayed, is suspected to have provided the enormous fruiting body with an abundance of nutrients for at least 20 years. When combined with the moist tropical climate of the island, the tree provided the ideal growing conditions for a record-shattering fungus.
You can read more about the giant fungus at BBC News
Detailed descriptions of the specimen can be found in the Journal of Fungal Biology