London: A new giant fungus thought to be at least 20 years old has been found in China.
The most massive fruiting body of any fungus yet documented has been discovered growing on the underside of a tree in China.
The fruiting body, which is equivalent to the mushrooms produced by other fungi species, is up to 10m long, 80cm wide and weighs half a tonne.
That shatters the record held previously by a fungus growing in Kew Gardens in the UK.
The first example of the new giant fungus was recorded by scientists in 2008 in Fujian Province, China, by Professor Yu-Cheng Dai of the Herbarium of biology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shenyang and his assistant Dr Cui.
“But the type collection was not huge,” BBC quoted Dai as saying.
However, “we found [the] giant one in Hainan Province in 2010.”
The researchers were in the field studying wood-decaying fungi when they happened upon the specimen.
“We were not specifically looking for this fungus; we did not know the fungus can grow so huge,” he said.
“We were surprised when we found it, and we did not recognise it in the forest because it is too large,” he added.
The fungus, F. ellipsoidea, is what mycologists call a perennial polypore - otherise known as a bracket fungus.
The discovery has been described in the journal Fungal Biology.