Fairy Ring

Dan Egel, Extension Plant Pathologist, Southwest Purdue Agriculture Program, Botany & Plant Pathology Department

The photo shown here is of what is typically known as a fairy ring. The name comes from an ancient belief that mushrooms grow in a circle where fairies danced the night before. A more up-to-date explanation is that a fungus is growing in a circular pattern in the soil and the mushrooms represent the edge of the fungal growth. Each year the fungus grows a little bit more, so that the fairy ring should be wider each time it appears. Some fairy rings are hundreds of years old. The recent warm weather and rain probably helped the mushrooms pictured here to spring up through the grass. These mushrooms are parasol mushrooms, but many types of mushrooms can form fairy rings. (Never eat any mushroom that hasn’t been identified by an expert as edible.) Although we now know the actual reason behind the circular pattern, the early morning appearance of the mushrooms shown here makes it easy to imagine fairies dancing around in a wild circle!

Lower leaf yellowing (chlorosis) and leaf loss may be attributed to two cultural conditions: 1) water stress and 2) excessive or deficient fertility.

Figure 1