Mushrooms in the yard

fairy_1482068cIsn’t odd when you find mushrooms in the grass? I understand them growing on my mulch or lichen on one of the trees, but somehow the concept of bright, healthy grass and fungus don’t seem to go together.

I’ve always been intrigued by the toadstools that grow in circles, a fairy ring. Folklore says mushrooms growing in a circle were made by fairies dancing in a ring. They just another type of fungus – Marasmius oreades (big circles) or Agaricus campestris (small circles) – that spreads via a subterranean network of threads outward into a circle shape. The grass around these rings looks really sickly, because this type of fungus depletes the nutrients the grass needs to flourish. The circles I see are usually dinner plate size, but I read that there was a huge ring a half-mile in diameter and probably about 700 years old found in France.

Fairy rings are part of the folklore around the world. If the country can support grass and mushrooms then the locals have a story to go with it. It’s interesting that different nationalities have different myths about fairy rings, and yet they were universally intrigued enough about the rings to have a story. Most of the stories involve moonlit nights and fairies or elves who become visible and/or humans that disappear. I like the one that suggests that fairy rings spring up over an underground fairy village. The magical little people living under my yard are probably tired of my noisy dogs.

A few of the myths are pretty nasty. A whole variety of curses may occur if you step inside a mushroom patch. The story about being danced to death is particularly gruesome. I read that if you want to safely investigate a fairy ring you should run around it nine times first. I can’t imagine what my neighbors will think if I start running in circles with my gardening hat and clogs on.

Other folklore say that fairy circles are places of fertility and fortune. The Welsh believe sheep that eat the grass of a fairy ring flourish, and that crops sown from such a place will prove more bountiful. So since Dave’s heritage includes a healthy dose of Welsh, I’m going with the theory that my mushrooms in the grass are about prosperity and good health.


About Kary Beck

Mother and wife, gardener, wine enthusiast, avid online bargain hunter, and owner of two black-and-tan cocker spaniels.
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1 Response to Mushrooms in the yard

  1. Chad Moffett says:

    Wow, 700 years – that’s crazy. I tell ya those French always do it up right! Interesting myths and folklore on mushrooms. We could only be so lucky to have enough moisture to have a fungus among us here in CA!! Have a nice holiday weekend Kary.


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