Fungi Have a Language

Written by Antonio DeRose

Fungi are a fascinating species of life. Scientists are still trying to uncover all of their unique complexities. We already know a lot about the effects and medicinal benefits of different mushroom types. Many complex behaviors in fungi have been observed, like controlling bacterial behavior through terpene production.

As the study of fungi behavior has expanded in recent years, scientists are now starting to discover how fungi communicate. The results of a new study have not only identified language patterns in mushrooms, but also differences in word length and sentence structure. [1]


Fungi Language Research Study

Researchers used electrodes to measure the electrical activity of four different fungi species;

  • Ghost fungi (Omphalotus nidiformis)
  • Enoki fungi (Flammulina velutipes)
  • Split gill fungi (Schizophyllum commune)
  • Caterpillar fungi (Cordyceps militaris)

Electrodes were either connected directly to the sporocarps (fruiting body) or a mycelium-colonized substrate. The electrical activity of each fungi species was measured and analyzed. “Spikes of electrical potential are typically considered to be key attributes of neurons, and neuronal spiking activity is interpreted as a language of a nervous system.” These methods have been used to analyze spikes of electrical potential in other lifeforms that don’t have a nervous system, like plants, slime moulds, and protozoa.


Interpreting Fungi Language

Many specific linguistic variables were used to interpret the electrical spikes as potential language. Measurements of electrical activity included the distribution of intervals between spikes, average spike amplitude, number of spikes recorded, average interval between spikes, and the average amplitude of a spike. These measurements were then cross-analyzed against global transition graphs of fungal spiking machines to determine the syntax of fungal language.

After reviewing all of the collected data, researchers came to several conclusions;

  • The size of the fungal lexicon can be up to 50 words; “the distribution of the lengths of spike trains (# of spikes) follows the distribution of word lengths in human languages.”
  • The core lexicon of most frequently used words does not exceed 15–20 words.
  • Split gill fungi and ghost fungi have the largest lexicons.
  • The average word length varies from 3.3 to 8.9.
  • Split gill fungi produce the most complex sentences.


Although the study concluded a need for future research in the field of fungi language, the current findings say a lot about fungi communication. One of the most interesting findings is that the average fungal word length was in the same range as some human languages. It was even comparable to English and Russian. We may not know exactly what fungi are saying but researchers aren’t far off from translating their language, allowing us to communicate with fungi in a whole new way.



  1. Adamatzky A. Language of fungi derived from their electrical spiking activity. R Soc Open Sci. 2022;9(4):211926. [Journal Impact Factor: 3.653; Times Cited: 1]


Image: Created by Green House Healthy

About the author

Antonio DeRose

Leave a Comment