Home Page Science Frontiers

No. 82: Jul-Aug 1992

Issue Contents

Other pages

Other Interesting Sites











The humongous organism contest!

When we read of that 10,000-kilogram fungus discovered in Michigan, it sounded like a good item for Science Frontiers. But then it was described as the "largest and oldest living organism," and we knew that if we waited a couple months this Guinness-like record would be eclipsed. (Superlatives are risky in this business!)

A killer fungus in Washington State. In the foothills of Mount Adams, a specimen of the fungus Armillaria ostoyae covers 1,500 acres and seems to be 400-1,000 years old, as comapred to the 38-acre, 1,500-year-old Michigan fungus. Although younger than its Michigan counterpart, the Washington fungus is lethal and can wipe out whole populations of trees.

(Anonymous; "The Great Fungus," Nature, May 21, 1992.)

Comment. It has also been reported that a huge, spreading, pathological growth exists in Washington, DC!

Some even more humongous plants.

"A grass clone, Holcus mollis, has been found with a diameter of 900 metres and an age of over 1000 years. A clone of box-huckleberry has been found with a diameter of 2000 metres and an age of 13 000 years. The big granddaddy is, however, an aspen (Populus fremaloides) covering 81 hectares and over 10 000 years old."

(Bullock, James; "Huge Organisms," New Scientist, p. 54, May 30, 1992.)

From Science Frontiers #82, JUL-AUG 1992. 1992-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987