THE FACTS: An image viewed more than 150,000 times on Facebook this week claims to show “Lion’s Mane mushrooms growing from a swamp” — but it actually shows a work of art. Lion’s mane mushrooms — also known as bearded tooth fungus — are white with long, hanging spines, similar to the figure in the picture.
They are typically about the size of a football, according to British conservation charity The Woodland Trust.
A reverse-image search finds the viral image shows no fungus. Instead, it’s an art piece made and first exhibited in 2013 by the artist Susi Brister. The work titled “613 Silky Straight in Swamp” shows a “platinum blonde swamp creature slowly moving through a swampy habitat,” Brister told the AP in an email.
To create the image, a human model posed inside a suit created from about 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 strange confluence and disconnection between nature and artificial nature.”
The work was first exhibited at Lawndale Art Center in Houston. It later appeared in other galleries in Houston and Austin, Texas.
“It is in no way depicting a mushroom,” Brister wrote. “In fact, I’ve never even heard of a lion’s mane mushroom before, but happy to have learned something new!”