Friday, September 9, 2011

The Fairy Rings

 I was walking at the Farmersville-Jackson Twp. Joint Park today when I spotted, in the distant grass, clusters of white. "Trash, probably," Mom says as I head over to take a look. Instead, as I near the spot, I see several "fairy rings".

 Also called elf rings or pixie rings, this is the stuff of pagan legends where it was thought that elves danced the night away. This is supposed to be the portal to the world of fairies and elves.
 Instead, though, they are a perfectly natural occurance caused by the underground fungus growth, expanding as it searches for new sources of food and then "blooming" on the periphery of this circle when the conditions are just right. The rain of recent days offered those perfect conditions..
 There was not one but several of the fairy rings, often interlocked, and often an incomplete circle (as the one shown above). They are merely arcs composed of fungi. The mushroom on the bottom of the photo is one I picked so I could examine it more carefully, especially the lovely gills.

 These free-hanging gills are of a beautiful shade of chocolate brown. The caps are white, off-white and often tinged near the edges with tan. They are, I believe, common Meadow Mushrooms (Agaricus campestris) though I have not taken much time in this identification and would never eat them until I did (if I am correct they are indeed edible, even choice).

 Here's a nice close-up of the exquisite gill structure. They look good enough to eat, don't they?
 Tradition says mere mortals may be trapped within the fairy rings. I found no such attraction besides the beauty these mushrooms hold.