FACTS: An image seen over 150,000 times on Facebook this week claims to show “lion’s mane mushrooms growing in a swamp” – but it actually shows a work of art. Lion’s mane mushroom – also known as the bearded tooth fungus – is white with long, dangling thorns, similar to the figure in the photo.
They are typically about the size of a soccer ball, according to the British conservation organization The Woodland Trust.
A reverse image search finds that the viral image does not show any fungus. Rather, it is a work of art produced and exhibited for the first time in 2013 by artist Susi Brister. The artwork titled “613 Silky Straight in Swamp” shows a “platinum blonde swamp creature slowly moving through swampy habitat,” Brister told the AP in an email.
To create the image, a human model posed inside a costume created from around 100 custom-made platinum blonde hair extensions, Brister wrote.
The piece is part of a larger series called ‘Fantastic Habitat,’ Brister wrote, ‘in which I create and photograph sculptural coverings worn by models in the landscape that highlight both the eerie confluence and the disconnection between nature and artificial nature.
The work was exhibited for the first time at the Lawndale Art Center in Houston. He then appeared in other galleries in Houston and Austin, Texas.
“It does not represent a mushroom in any way,” Brister wrote. “In fact, I had never heard of a lion’s mane mushroom before, but I’m glad I learned something new! “