Circle of mushrooms kind of creeps me out
After it rains mushrooms appear in our yard. I read this is because most of the fungus we think of as a mushroom is actually under the ground. When the earth is soaked the fungus can’t breathe so it shoots up spores (the mushroom cap) to promote air flow under the surface. (I don’t have a source for this; I think I read it while surfing for info about how to best utilize my compost bin).
But why, in our yard, do the mushrooms come up in circular patterns? What’s up with that? It’s like a little mushroom Stonehenge. Miniature mushroom worshippers quietly gathering. What are they planning? Why a circle? It creeps me out.
Be scared Hula Boy, be very scared.
Luckily, Sara’s Dad has all the answers …
1. Sara’s Dad | September 18, 2009 at 9:22 pm
A fairy ring, also known as a pixie ring, is a naturally occurring ring or arc of mushrooms. The rings may grow over ten meters in diameter and become stable over time as the fungus grows and seeks food underground. Even if no mushrooms are present, the underground presence of the fungus may sometimes be detected by observing the withering or varying color or growth of grass directly above.
Fungi spread their spores in a circular fashion. Since multiple spores from separate fungi overlap in the inner part, fallow soil is only to be found away from the center of the “circle”. This is how fairy rings “grow”.
Although the edible Marasmius oreades is best known as the “fairy ring mushroom”, other species of fungus, some of which are poisonous to humans, may also form arcs or rings. This mushroom is also called Scotch bonnet.
In English folklore, fairy rings were said to be caused by fairies or pixies dancing in a circle, wearing down the grass beneath their feet. Toads would then sit on the basidia, poisoning them, hence the name toadstool.
In Scandinavian folklore, these circles were attributed to the elves and were called älvdanser, i.e. elf dances.
In German-speaking Europe, fairy rings are known as Hexenringe, or “witches rings”, stemming from an old mediaeval belief that the rings represented places where witches would have their gatherings.
Another myth states that fairy rings are doors into the fairies world, transporting people to other places, or make people appear in the same place in a different time.