CRYSTAL FALLS, Mich. (AP) — A 1,500-year-old, 100-ton fungus gets its due this week with northern Michigan's annual Humungus Fungus Fest.
The festival in Crystal Falls honors the Armillaria fungus, which covers about 37 acres in Iron County's Mastodon Township. It's near the Wisconsin border, about 55 miles southwest of Marquette.
Researchers Myron Smith, James Anderson and Johann Bruhn discovered the giant fungus, and it was chronicled in a 1992 article in the journal Nature. They determined that the mushrooms shared genetic material and were in fact one organism, according to The Daily News of Iron Mountain (http://bit.ly/19esFc3 ).
"Although everyone wants to see the 'Humungus Fungus' for themselves, it is mostly underground except for tiny offshoots that poke through the surface in the fall, edibles commonly known as button or honey mushrooms," according to the festival's website. "People are generally disappointed if they actually go to the site looking for the big mushroom."
"The fungus is an intergral part of the ecosystem, feeding on decayed wood and producing carbon dioxide essential for the process through which plants generate life-giving oxygen" the site quoted Brunn as saying. "Without organisms such as this, it wouldn't take long before life on earth would cease."
The fungus festival started Wednesday with a teen talent contest. It runs through Sunday.
Festival details: http://www.humungusfungusfest.com
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