Renowned Swiss entomologist Martin Luscher described the mounds of this fungus-growing species as being as much as 16 feet tall, 16 feet in diameter at their base, and with a cement-like wall of soil mixed with termite saliva that is from 16 to 23 inches thick.

Does the above mean species that feed on fungus?

Can I use phrases like "grass-growing", "meat-growing", etc.?

  • The first question may be better asked on Biology SE Jul 23, 2019 at 11:25
  • Reads to me like the "species" (whatever it is) grows fungus. Hence the use of the hyphenated "fungus-growing". Please provide examples of where you'd like to use "meat-growing", etc.
    – mike65535
    Jul 23, 2019 at 14:09
  • He's referring to a species of termite that brings in material for the fungus to grow on. These termites actively cultivate this fungus and will die without it. They don't actually eat the fungus (although people do), the fungus helps to break down the cellulose which the termites feed on.
    – Phil Sweet
    Jul 23, 2019 at 23:51

1 Answer 1


An entomologist is an insect expert. The sentence seems to refer to a species of termite that cultivates a fungus within its mounds to provide food for the colony. That is, they 'grow fungi' - nothing to do with growing up.

We sometimes speak of a district that specialises in a particular crop as a wheat-growing area, or a vine-growing district. We wouldn't use it of grass (too universal) or of meat (you raise animals, not grow them).

  • One might say "grass-growing region" about places suited to or specialising in growing marijuana.
    – nnnnnn
    Jul 23, 2019 at 9:03
  • It seems like every day now we have recurring questions from people trying to learn English but who do not understand that the syntactic structure behind this OBJECT-VERBing NOUN is that this is merely an attributive version of *this NOUN that VERBs OBJECTs". It’s as though all the English Language Learners were reading the same chapter in the same workbook, some textbook where this isn't explained to them properly and then they wind up coming here instead of to English Language Learners which is made for them.
    – tchrist
    Jul 23, 2019 at 14:36

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