"Don't look now, but there's a humongous fungus among us!"
Mushrooms that are larger than average appear often in fantasy. While some actual mushrooms have been known to grow as large as soccer balls, in fiction mushrooms can grow to be as large as people, or even trees, leading to whole forests of nothing but mushrooms. Sometimes they are merely supposed to be an unusual flora
used to convey the alien nature of the place, when unreal or differently sized trees, grass, and the like just wouldn't seem alien enough. Other times they are supposed to show corruption, an evil blight that is spreading across the land.
Does not apply to tiny people living in regular mushrooms
, since in those instances it is the people that are unusual, not the mushrooms. Also does not apply to mushroom clouds
, which are just mushroom shaped. Nor does it apply to sentient fungi, since they are not necessarily part of the scenery, unless they are so humongous that they dominate the scene. See Mushroom Man
for that sort of thing. Of course, if they live in giant mushrooms, that is another matter. However, it may
cross over with Springy Spores
if it's in a video game level.
Named after the fun wordplay "A fungus among us" that pops up in many different forms of media, including an album by Incubus
This is usually considered a Plant Trope
, even though fungi are not, you know, plants
. Can lead to Fridge Logic
issues if an entire planetary ecosystem is based on this trope, as even giant fungi can't produce oxygen like plants can.
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Anime and Manga
- Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Nausicaa's home planet is overrun by massive fungus. In the manga, it's shown that one type of fungus can grow to a height of 30 meters in seconds.
- In volume four of the Moyashimon manga, the legion of A. oryzae mold spores (which Sawaki can see and speak to) that have taken up residence in his dorm room bother him while he's reading a manga... and then combine into a giant oryzae and sit on him when he won't pay attention to them. Sawaki also sees large concentrations of other microorganisms as room-sized miasma blobs with big grinning faces.
- In Naruto: Kakashi Gaiden includes a forest with very large trees with mushrooms so large you can stand on them.
- Urusei Yatsura. At the end of his competition with Lum, Ataru pursues her in an area where giant (building-high) mushrooms have burst out of the ground.
- Magi-Nation, the entirety of the Underneath is covered in mushrooms, and most of the dream creatures in the area resemble them tremendously. Giant Korrits, Brubs, Vulbors, you name it, it's a mushroom. They make houses out of the things, too. Ormagon, possibly the most powerful dream creature in the game, is a colossal, ambulatory mushroom that completely decimated all of civilization in The Underneath in no time at all.
- Munchkin has the Fungus, which is already rather large, but players are encouraged to play the "Humongous" card on it (by giving it a +15 instead of the card's normal +10) to get the Humongous Fungus (Which one must never truffle with)
- The Tintin story "The Shooting Star" involved a rocky meteorite the size of a small island that mysteriously sprouted mushrooms and other creatures that quickly grew to giant size and exploded.
- One page of Little Nemo found Nemo walking through a forest of giant mushrooms so utterly fragile that they all collapsed when Nemo stumbles against one.
- La Forge de Vulcan has a few pages set in a forest of tree-sized mushrooms, stated to be brought by the Vineans from their world. They have not returned since, but fit the pattern for other Vinean lifeforms of being our familiar wildlife (very well-drawn), modified in a single respect (size, colour, number of limbs) or combined together.
- Comic Book/Zero: In the future depicted in the comic, gigantic mushrooms are shown growing out of the ocean.
Films — Animated
- A giant mushroom appears in Disney's Alice in Wonderland. One half of the mushroom made Alice huge, while the other made her tiny.
- On Treasure Planet, the titular planet is covered by giant mushrooms.
Films — Live-Action
- In A Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne, the main characters find giant petrified mushrooms in a huge underground cave.
- Alan Dean Foster's Star Wars Expanded Universe novel Splinter Of The Minds Eye. Luke and Princess Leia crossed a lake using the caps of giant mushrooms as kayaks.
- Foster also used this in his Humanx Commonwealth Verse, when Born, Losting and the giants use fungal stalks to build a raft and traverse the Lower Hell of Midworld.
- Massive fungi show up in H. G. Wells's The First Men in the Moon. Eating them induces euphoria and intoxication.
- Eleanor Cameron's Mushroom Planet series.
- Zack Parsons's serial story Instructions For A is worth reading without spoilers. However I'll say that it's a frightening take on what our lives would be like if there were a Cordyceps fungi species that could infest every living thing on the planet.
- In The Forgotten Planet, Murray Leinster carefully justifies this by giving the planet patterns of weather that make photosynthetic life forms non-viable, allowing saprophytes to fill the niches occupied by trees, grasses, etc.
- These things spouted from the ground around the city of Ambergris sometimes in mere hours in Jeff VanderMeer's City of Saints and Madmen: The Hoegbotton Guide to the Early History of Ambergris, as foreshadowing to the mysterious incident known as the Silence where two thirds of the city's population mysteriously vanished overnight without a trace, along with all the mushrooms.
- In the sequel novel Finch the city is overtaken by the Graycaps, and their giant mushrooms grow to the size of buildings, and periodically spew out spores that are delicious and nutritious, but also contain extremely addictive drugs, and are used for population control.
- The Tunnels series has a massive fungus that grows inside the Pore. Its shelf-like protrusions can provide a soft landing for some of those unfortunate enough to fall in.
- Piers Anthony's Omnivore is set on a planet where animals never arose, but some fungi did evolve mobility. In addition to plenty of oversized stationary fungal species, there's an omnivorous mobile type the size of a minibus. (Also sentient mobile carnivorous ones, but that's a different trope.)
- In the second of Elizabeth Bear's 'Jacob's Ladder' books (Chill) there are several levels inside the Generation Ship where massive insects and fungus have developed in humid darkness resulting from wonky life support- two characters make camp on a shelf the size of a mattress.
- In J.M. Barrie's novel Peter Pan the secret chimney of the Lost Boys' hideout is concealed by a giant mushroom. Unfortunately Captain Hook picks that mushroom to sit down on for a rest while searching for them.
- How The Marquis Got His Coat Back introduces The Mushroom, which has a tribe of people tied to it by Symbiotic Possession.
- An episode of The X-Files called "Field Trip" featured a Monster of the Week which was a giant underground fungal complex (see Real Life below); the nonsentient growth sucked down its human victims and dosed them with powerful hallucinogens to keep them docile while it slowly digested them.
- Some large mobile mushrooms appear in one scene of the John Denver episode of The Muppet Show. Denver starts to sing "Nobody Knows the Truffles I've Seen", and the mushrooms attack him in disgust.
- Mutts for May 5th, 2013. After a damp spring, Earl and Mooch (a normal size dog and cat) find themselves walking among mushrooms taller than a human being.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- A plane known as the Beastlands has groves of giant mushrooms.
- Several of Gary Gygax's early modules had giant mushrooms and other fungi, including D3 Vault of the Drow, EX1 Dungeonland, S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth and T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil.
- Mayfair Games' AD&D-compatible adventure Swordthrust had an indoor garden with mushrooms up to 20 feet high.
- Module FRQ2 Hordes of Dragonspear had a cave with a forest of giant mushrooms.
- Dragon magazine
- Issue #32 module "Fell Pass". Several rooms have giant fungi: in one they're up to 15 feet tall.
- Issue #211 article "Fungi of the Underdark". The Trillimac mushroom grows up to 5 feet high and Timmask mushrooms grow two feet high and two feet wide.
- Basic D&D modules
- B1 In Search of the Unknown has the Garden Room, which includes a grove of giant fungi with stems like tree trunks and caps 8 feet wide. The cover has an illustration of a PC party exploring it (original version◊ and later version◊).
- B8 Journey to the Rock. The cavern of the chameleon men has mushrooms as tall as houses.
- Expert Set D&D modules
- O2 Blade of Vengeance. The flitterlings' Magic Mushroom ring had a large red and blue spotted mushroom in its center.
- X8 Drums on Fire Mountain had a volcanic cavern with a fungus forest, some of which were the size of a small tree.
- There's a layer of the Abyss devoted to fungi. The capital city is carved out of miles-high mushrooms.
- Slave Lords modules A1-A4
- Module A3 Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords. The PCs will encounter an underground lake. Nearby is a forest of large (6-7 feet tall) mushrooms which give off an eerie luminescence.
- Module A4 In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords. The Mushroom Garden is filled with mushrooms that are up to 9 feet tall and have trunks as thick as a tree. The Fungus Forest is filled with giant mushrooms and toadstools and huge puffball fungi.
- Ravenloft module Thoughts of Darkness. An underground cavern inside the mind flayer complex is filled with large mushrooms and other fungi.
- WG7 Castle Greyhawk.
- Level 8 "Of Kings and Colonels". There's a large cavern holding fungus forest with giant mushrooms and tall, stalk-like growths.
- Level 12 "Where the Random Monsters Roam". One room has fungal growths about 10 feet tall.
- Mayfair Games' Role Aids supplement Dwarves. Mushrooms up to 12 feet tall are used for food and carved into furniture and musical instruments.
- Finally, there's Zuggtmoy, a Demon Lord with dominance over fungus, and that's kind of a problem for her; very few mortals are interested in worshipping fungus. This led her to be used as an Unwitting Pawn, by the dark force behind the Temple of Elemental Evil, who tricked her into attracting worshippers, thinking their devotion was granting power to her. In truth, the Temple's true patron was Tharizdun, and Zuggtmoy ended up a prisoner in the dungeons of "her" own temple for years because of her mistake, and even after escaping, she had lost much of the power she had in the first place. (Kind of hard to feel sorry for a demon, but still, she was clearly the Lesser of Two Evils.)
- Trollpak supplement for RuneQuest. The Sporewood is an underground Mushroom Wood with a variety of immense fungi, including toadstools.
- Stormbringer supplement Atlas of the Young Kingdoms Volume 1. In the Forest of Troos are the Fungus Groves, which have mushrooms whose stems are as wide as a house and whose caps are large enough to build a castle upon.
- Call of Cthulhu
- Supplement Terror from the Stars, adventure "The Temple of the Moon". The Fungi from Yuggoth have a giant cave complex beneath the mountains of Peru filled with a disgusting array of giant fungi imported from their home planet.
- Supplement Dreamlands boxed set, booklet "The Dreamlands". In the Dreamlands there's a fungus forest atop a great cliff at the southern edge of the Peaks of Thok in the Underworld. It contains obscene giant fungi.
- Dying Earth RPG supplement Demons of the Dying Earth. The demonic subworld of Gnarre is made up of underground tunnels and caves with huge mushrooms and toadstools that are farmed for food.
- Some members of the Nosferatu clan in Vampire: The Masquerade have been known to keep gardens of mushrooms, some of which can grow to the size of trees. These can be grown for aethetic purposes, or for defending their havens.
- Rolemaster Shadow World supplement Sky Giants of the Brass Stair. In the Brass Stair's underground caverns, the Hall of the Forest Wyrm has fungi and mushrooms more than 8 feet high.
- Judges Guild
- Supplement Fantastic Wilderlands Beyonde. Man-sized mushrooms grow around the edge of one of the Idyllic Islands in the Sea of Five Winds. Only the green-spotted ones are edible.
- Supplement The Thieves of Fortress Badabaskor. Two of the rooms in the title fortress have giant mushrooms growing in them.
- 2300 AD supplement Aurore Sourcebook. The Bladehood plant is the shape of a mushroom two to four meters high.
- The New Era supplement The Regency Sourcebook. The planet Enaaka's ecosystem is mostly fungus, including tall, tree-like mushrooms.
- Paranoia XP supplement The Underplex. The hidden sector Mescalinzan is filled with fungal growths, including puffball mushrooms with caps a meter thick.
- SPI's Universe. In the Encounters section of the main rules, Creature #33 is an alien mushroom about three meters tall. It's covered with a glue-like secretion and anyone who gets too close will be grabbed by a five meter long tentacle and dragged in to be its dinner.
- Gamma World adventure GW1 Legion of Gold. The buggem lair has a room filled with a fungus garden made up of tall, shrub-like fungi.
- Carcosa: Weird Science-Fantasy Horror Setting. The introductory adventure "Fungoid Gardens of the Bone Sorcerer" has a Grand Fungus Forest. It includes fungi of all sizes, up to that of a towering tree.
- Hollow Earth Expedition
- Main rules. One of the more exotic surface terrain types in the Hollow Earth is forests of towering mushrooms.
- Supplement Mysteries of the Hollow Earth. Moletown is the underground cave city of the Molemen. The cave that holds the Temple of the Worm has huge forests of phosphorescent fungi, and the fungus farm has fungi that achieve towering heights.
- Central Casting: Dungeons. In the Herbalist's Laboratory section, one of the illustrations depicts a room filled with mushrooms and other fungi that are taller than an adult human being.
- Magic: The Gathering has the Thallids, a race of sentient fungus that produces saprolings. Developed by the elves as a food source, the Thallids wound up spreading faster than the elves could kill them and eventually overran their creators.
- As shown in the picture above, in the webcomic Copper, Copper and Fred cross over a forest of tall mushrooms while pondering the nature of achievement.
- Ben 10 once had a giant fungus forest. Like everything else in the series, it turned out to be a hostile alien.
- In the My Little Pony cartoon, there is the Mushromp, a forest dotted with large mushrooms that is the home of the Moochick.
- Tintin encountered huge mushrooms in The Shooting Star (L'Étoile mystérieuse), which promptly explode, just like in the comic version mentioned above.
- Superfriends (1973-74) episode "The Mysterious Moles". While exploring underground, Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Dog encounter a stream with giant mushrooms growing along the banks.
- In Futurama the gang had to deal with a mushroom-dog Bond Creature that housed an actor's ego. The dog grew larger the more self-satisfied the actor became, so it got to be quite large. Zoidberg even says the line "There's a humongous fungus among us."
- Godzilla: The Series had Randy and Mendel encounter an extremely LARGE fungus that was leaving the farmlands in Michigan barren in "Underground Movement".
- Space Ghost episode "Hi-Jackers". The planet where the title criminals make their base is covered with giant mushrooms several times larger than a human being.
- The largest known living organism on Earth is a 2,400-year-old (they think) Armillaria fungus in the Malheur National Forest in Oregon, USA. It covers an estimated area of 9 square kilometers. Most of it is the underground mycelium, all you'll see above ground are the small honey mushrooms that sprout in autumn.
- There are smaller Armillaria in Michigan, USA. It's over 30 acres, located in Mastodon Township. The nearby city of Crystal Falls has a Humongous Fungus Fest every year.
- Prototaxites, a type of mushroom that lived lived about 420 to 350 million years ago, were often over 20 feet tall.
- These◊ pictures of◊ giant mushrooms in Mexico are not photoshopped.
- According to this article it's possible that the Prototaxites may have actually been giant 24 foot tall mushrooms, the tallest living land organisms at the time.