A forest fungus has been named by scientists as one of the largest living organisms on Earth.
Elephants, whales and giant redwood trees pale into comparison when set against the honey fungus Armillaria gallica that grows underground.
Experts calculate the parasitic fungus at Crystal Creek in Michigan, US, covers an area the size of 75 rugby pitches, weighs more than 400 tons and is at least 2,500 years old.
A forest fungus in Michigan has been named by scientists as one of the largest living organisms on Earth (file image)
However, it is not the biggest organism on Earth – that title goes to another Armillaria fungus, which covers almost four square miles in the US state of Oregon.
The Michigan fungus feeds on the roots of trees and lies mainly beneath the soil. And all of it grew from a single spore.
It has yellow mushroom-like ‘fruits’ that sprout out of the ground and can have stalks of up to 10cm.
Researchers from the University of Toronto said the fungus was first discovered in the late 1980s, but its ‘full spatial extent’ has only now been revealed.
It has been dubbed the ‘humungous fungus’ and can devastate woodland.
The Michigan fungus feeds on the roots of trees and lies mainly beneath the soil. And all of it grew from a single spore (file image)