Tag Archives: dancing

Fairy Rings – for Real?!

When Dallas was younger but old enough to mow June’s lawn, he would invariably NOT mow the fairy rings which grew in her yard during the fall (after all it is dangerous and unlucky!).  Fairy rings grow in wet, humid conditions – not necessarily hot, but certainly not cold.  But what causes these mushrooms to grow in a circular or semi-circular pattern with such consistency?

Tannachton Farm fungi Jun 2013 (1)

Well, beyond the obvious reason that it is caused by fairies and elves dancing in circles, the answer is just as mysterious and inconclusive.  In fact, there seem to be more folklore tales than ‘scientific’ proposals!

The science revolves around “The mycelium of a fungus growing in the ground absorbs nutrients by secretion of enzymes from the tips of the hyphae (threads making up the mycelium).[2]This breaks down larger molecules in the soil into smaller molecules that are then absorbed through the walls of the hyphae near their growing tips.[2] The mycelium will move outward from the center, and when the nutrients in the center are exhausted, the center dies, thereby forming a living ring, from which the fairy ring arises.[2]”

There are two theories regarding the process involved in creating fairy rings. One states that the fairy ring is begun by a spore from the sporocarpus. The underground presence of the fungus can also cause withering or varying colour or growth of the grass above. The second theory, which is presented in the investigations of Japanese scientists on the Tricholoma matsutake species, shows that fairy rings could be established by connecting neighbouring oval genetsof these mushrooms. If they make an arc or a ring, they continuously grow about the centre of this object.

Blah, blah, blah – i’m going with the dancing fairies, elves, and pixies!

He wha tills the fairies’ green
Nae luck again shall hae :
And he wha spills the fairies’ ring
Betide him want and wae.
For weirdless days and weary nights
Are his till his deein’ day.
But he wha gaes by the fairy ring,
Nae dule nor pine shall see,
And he wha cleans the fairy ring
An easy death shall dee.[61]

Robert Chambers, Scottish poet.

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