Honey Mushroom: The Humongous Fungus

Welcome to the Atlas Obscura Community discussion of Honey Mushroom: The Humongous Fungus in Grant, Oregon. Ask questions or share travel tips, experiences, pictures, or general comments with the community. For the story behind this place, check out the Atlas Obscura entry:

09/06/2019 - This is even a well-kept secret locally, as state park employees at Kam Wah Chung had not even heard of it. When I called the ranger office for the Forest Service, not even they had a specific notion of where to look. The ranger I spoke to said there is a map and brochure available at fs.usda.gov. A cursory search on the ol’ Internet there brought me here:

These locations are in the opposite direction I was heading, so I did search near the coordinates provided in the article as they were near a mountain I was preparing to summit. The coordinates in this article are useless; do not rely on them. In the end I did not get to see the honey mushroom, though even the ranger I spoke to on the phone said it would be more likely to see them a bit deeper into autumn.

I am not the author of this article, but I thought I might jump in because I do have a background in mycology.
The fungus mentioned in the article certainly is humongous, but that biomass is almost completely located below ground in the form of mycelium (basically a network of root-like structures) rather than mushrooms, which are just the reproductive structure of the fungus.
Of course the article does mention that Armillaria ostoyae mushooms can be found throughout the park, but (and I’m assuming you just visited) it could be a little too early in the season for many mushrooms to be fruiting, as the ranger said. I can’t say for sure on that though since I’m not an Oregonian! :smile: And then lastly, mushrooms are ephemeral, so when they’re fruiting somewhere at one point in time, they likely won’t still be there a few days or weeks later, so I would be wary of relying on specific GPS coordinates. I think those coordinates in the article are just showing the center of the Malheur National Forest, which could be a misleading/confusing side effect of how AO depicts location. Perhaps another paragraph could be written with a disclaimer about locating the mushrooms, and some more clear details about the underground nature of the fungus/ephemeral nature of mushrooms in general (@AtlasObscura moderators, I can do it if you’d like).
(Side note about other minor issues with the article: the “A” in Armillaria ostoyae should be capitalized. And “Honey Mushroom” is the common name of any Armillaria species – not just A. ostoyae, and not just the specific individual fungus this article is written about. I think the way it’s phrased in the article unintentionally implies that name is unique to this individual.)
Anyway, I’m sorry you couldn’t find any mushrooms @thirdfuerst ! Hopefully you do next time! :slightly_smiling_face: :mushroom:

Hey @maren! Thanks for the detailed response! I corrected the capitalization issue in the entry. In terms of adding more info about visiting the mushroom, if you wanted to add more information to the “Know Before You Go” section of the entry, you could place it there. And @thirdfuerst, I’m sorry you didn’t get to see the fungus! But as always, thank you for sharing your adventure with us!

10/29/2020 - I visited the area yet again, armed with more information and even a vague map from the USFS, found here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fsbdev3_033146.pdf. I spent over 3 hours driving to and walking the various areas marked on the map as best spots to view it, yet we found nothing. Given its elusive nature and the time required to get out to this area, I doubt I will attempt another viewing. Best of luck to those who go for it; please share pictures.

If you’re not having any luck there, Redwoods National Park is close enough to that part of Oregon for a long weekend trip. The Tall Trees Grove trail is almost always covered in many different types of fungus (including some Armillaria species if you’re particularly interested in seeing honey mushrooms). You need a permit for that trail, but you can pick one up at the visitors center for free. Just remember, no harvesting in the National Parks.