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The Guinness World Record-Setting Mushroom Canoe

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The boat’s wood skeleton was built first. Next, paper maché was wrapped around it and the craft was placed in a hammock. When the long white threads of mushrooms, called mycelium, grew into this makeshift mold, they took the shape of a 2.30 meter (7 foot, 6 inch) long canoe.

That’s how community college student Katy Ayers, with input from mushroom grower Ash Gordon, grew a Guinness World Record-setting mushroom canoe. It smells earthy. It feels a lot like skin. It’s buoyant, and it may fruit a few mushrooms after a voyage.

a mycelium-made canoe
This Nebraska Stories video from Nebraska Public Media features Ayers’ mycelium-grown boat, as well as her pursuit of sustainable mycology-based solutions.

“I grow things out of mushrooms because I think that it can really impact the way that we interact with our environment and our job as environmental stewards here on this planet…

“The fact that there’s so much that we don’t know about fungi, it’s like this giant mystery. They estimate there’s about 1.5 million species of fungi, yet we’ve only identified a little less than 200,000 at this point…

“You could grow a boat, you can grow packaging, chairs, lampshades, insulation, fireproofing… there’s so many things.”

Katy Ayers
Now a bioengineering/biochemistry major at Washington State University, Ayers is focused on safeguarding solitary native bees with biodegradable MycHotels, ‘bee hotels’ made from native fungi. Native bees overwinter in tunnels, tubes, and protected crevices, then use these spaces as nests for their eggs when it gets warm.

“Pollinator numbers are dwindling rapidly and we have over 400 species of bees and wasps that do pollination here in Nebraska. So we thought we could provide them some habitat with a native fungus.”

Bee hotel made from native fungus
Watch these related mushroom and bee videos next:
Mycelium packaging, a biodegradable alternative to styrofoam
Fungi in Your Future: Mushroom leather, furniture, & more
• Mycorrhizae: A closer look at how trees “talk” with each other underground
Can wild bees also pollinate our plants & crops?
A female blue orchard bee builds her ‘bee-jeweled’ nest

Plus: Can Mushrooms Save the Honey Bee?

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