FACT CHECK: Viral Image Claims To Show A Human-Like Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows a human-like lion’s mane mushroom.

Verdict: False

The image shows an art piece, not a lion’s mane mushroom.

Fact Check:

Social media users have been sharing an image of what appears to be a giant mushroom growing in a body of water with captions such as “An ominous Lion’s Mane mushroom growing out of a swamp!” One post has been shared over 5,200 times to date.

Through a reverse image search, Check Your Fact found the picture actually shows an art piece. The photo can be found in a 2016 Austin360 article that explains it is the work of artist Susi Brister, who, according to the outlet, creates “mysterious tableaux with enigmatic quasi-human figures draped in strange textiles and then situated in the natural landscape.”

“Yes, this is in fact my artwork,” said Brister in an email to Check Your Fact. “It’s a photograph I made in 2013 called ‘613 Silky Straight in Swamp.’ This image has been making the rounds on social media, without anyone asking my permission and few giving me credit. It’s extremely frustrating. It’s not a mushroom. In fact, I had never heard of a lions’ mane mushroom before this spate of copyright infringement.”

The piece appears to have been first exhibited at an art gallery in Texas in 2013. It can also be found in a 2014 art catalog and on Brister’s website under the series “Fantastic Habitat.” (RELATED: No, Morel Mushrooms Are Not The Source Of The Coronavirus)

“Fantastic Habitat is a body of photographic work depicting anonymous figures covered in densely textured or patterned textiles inserted into various landscapes as mysterious organic forms,” the Lawndale Art Center explains on its website. “Lush faux fur and vivid fabrics conceal the still figures, producing a bizarre visual and contextual relationship between the shrouded form and its environment and creating a landscape-within-landscape effect.”

Pictures of lion’s mane mushrooms can be found on Shutterstock. Lion’s mane mushrooms, which have culinary and medicinal uses, can grow to be seven to 25 centimeters wide and have fur-like spines, according to the U.K.-based conservation group Woodland Trust.

Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Reporter
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