The Largest Living Thing On Earth Is Mostly Hidden From View

guest author image

Lydia Ramsey

Guest Author

clockMay 11 2017, 22:48 UTC

Armillaria ostoyae Rocky Houghtby/Flickr

The world's largest living thing is even bigger than a blue whale (which happens to be the largest animal living now).

Meet Armillaria ostoyae, or, as it's nicknamed, the Humongous Fungus.


It's an organism that covers 2,385 acres (almost 4 square miles) of the Malheur National Forest in Oregon. 

But it's a lot more harmful than the nickname might suggest: The Amarillia grows by feeding off of tree roots, leaching off of them and actually killing them, causing them to decay. So, in a forest, it has a good shot of  growing to a massive size (at the cost of a few thousand acres of trees). 

The fungus has a huge network of roots, called mycellia, that permeate below the ground of the forest. What shows up above ground are the mushrooms that get produced about once a year, according to the USDA. They usually pop up around the base of infected or newly-killed trees. 


Here's a map showing just how big the Humongous Fungus, highlighted in red, is compared to other, less humongous Armillaria (in yellow). 


Read the original article on Business insider. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Copyright 2016.

Read next on Business Insider: Here's Why Couples Who Live Together Shouldn't Be In Any Rush To Get Married