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The Humongous Fungus

By Linda Tancs

The world’s largest living organism is a fungus. Dubbed “the humongous fungus” by forest officials, on the surface it looks like an ordinary mushroom, but its underground labyrinth is extensive and has been growing for thousands of years. It’s located in the Reynolds Creek and Clear Creek areas in the northeastern portion of Oregon’s Malheur National Forest. The only visible traces of the mushroom appear in the fall, but groves of standing dead conifers give testimony to the fungus’s role as a tree-killing pathogen. But don’t despair. There’s plenty of life in the forest, like high desert grasslands, sage and juniper, alpine lakes, meadows and the only isolated stand of Alaska yellow cedar east of the Cascades in the United States at the Cedar Grove Botanical Area.

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