The Ridges Sanctuary

Preservation, Education, and Research

Fungus Circle or Fairy Ring?

Posted on Jun 28, 2013 by Katie Krouse   Comments Off on Fungus Circle or Fairy Ring? | Posted in Blog · Uncategorized

This circle of mushrooms was spotted growing on the west side of the Upper Range Light today. Whether your mind is inclined toward fact or fancy, these curious little formations can’t help but draw attention.

Mushrooms are actually the reproductive part of the organism – much like apples are the reproductive fruit of the tree.  The biggest part of the mushroom, the mycelium, grows underground — a mass of elongated, hungry cells that feed on nutrients, pushing and growing through the substrate as long as there is food available. Just about any terrestrial mushroom can pop up in rings. What they need is an evenly composed substrate – like lawns — where the food supply is constant and uninterrupted. As the mycelium depletes the nutrients in the substrate, it grows ever-outward into new territory.  If the mycelium decides to produce mushrooms, it results in a circle of fungi.  And each year, a typical ring will expand its radius.

Feeling a bit more whimsical? Imagine this. You are walking in the light of the moon with a soft breeze blowing through the trees and flowers. You hear the sound of laughter. Quietly and cautiously, you draw closer to the sound only to glimpse fairies dancing in a small clearing. It lasts a few minutes or maybe a few hours. Like all things magic, time seems more fluid. Then it’s over.  At first, you think you’ve wakened from a dream, but then you look down and see them  — the circles left in the grass from their joyful dancing.

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