In the Yunnan province of China you can find over 600 species of edible mushrooms, possibly including the rare honey mushroom. The province is known as the Kingdom Of Mushrooms.
But even the most devoted mushroom aficionado might baulk at the sight of the gigantic mushroom just discovered there. The species it belongs to has not yet been identified, but it measures 37 inches (93 centimeters) across its widest part, and weighs about 33 pounds (15 kilograms), according to Science World Report.
Mushrooms are not classified as either animals or plants; they belong to the fungi family, a completely different group of living organisms. However, in spite of their plantlike appearance, they are actually more closely related to animals than to plants.
China has a huge mushroom industry; it is the largest exporter in the world of preserved mushrooms with a 42 percent share of a $10 billion market. It exports an especially prized and rare Tricholoma Matsutake mushroom to Japan, where it is regarded as a great delicacy.
However, the giant mushroom just discovered may turn out to be both inedible and dangerous. Many species of mushroom are poisonous. Two women in California died recently after drinking soup made from mushrooms which turned out to be toxic.
On the other hand,mushrooms can also provide some therapeutic benefits. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University think that the hallucinogen found in “magic mushrooms” might one day be used to treat a variety of psychiatric disorders, including depression, anxiety and addiction.
Whether the mushroom just discovered will prove to be a record-breaker for its species is not certain, but it will not hold the record for the largest mushroom ever found. That is currently held by a giant honey mushroom that was found in 1998 in Oregon, of all places.
That specimen was estimated to be around 2,384 acres (965 hectares) in size, and was at least 2,400 years old. It had been growing underground for all those centuries. Now that’s what you call a big honey mushroom. It seems it could make enough mushroom soup to fill several swimming pools.