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DESIGN TO EVOLVE

Making It Happen

The Woodwide Web

The largest organism on earth is the honey fungus—almost three miles across, with its home in Oregon’s Blue Mountains.1 It’s a killer, a parasite colonizing and culling trees and woody plants. Above ground, all we see is dead trees and mushrooms. Down in the underworld, fungi connect as a vast, entwined network of mycelium, tiny fungal threads that wrap around tree roots to create a “mycorrhizal network” that connects plants in a vast ecosystem. In healthy forests, trees and fungi operate a mutually beneficial barter system, with fungi fueled by the sugar trees photosynthesize from sunlight. In exchange, fungi help trees suck up water and share nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus.

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