Instructions on the care of a domesticated fairy ring.
May 12, 2014 5:36 PM   Subscribe

My family's been living in this house for about ten years, and early on I noticed we had a fairy ring on the property. When our kids were little, they loved the fairy ring and asked me to mow around it, which I've done for the past six or seven years. This year I noticed that it seemed to expand. Since I don't cut it, there's a circle of longer grass from last year inside of where the fairy ring showed up this spring, as if the ring grew a little bit larger. I also noticed a smaller fairy ring, about a quarter of the size, seemed to be growing about fifteen yards away. I guess what I'm wondering is, by not mowing over the fairy ring, are we helping it get bigger, maybe even spawning baby fairy rings? What do you know about the care, feeding, and life cycle of the domesticated fairy ring?

Other possibly relevant factors.

An underground septic drain field is about thirty yards away.

A very large tree died about four years ago. It's also about thirty yards away.

Don't use any pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizer on my property, but live next to a commodity crop farm and the field is about fifty yards from the fairy rings.

The fairy ring has never fruited, which is also why I don't know what kind of fairy ring it is.

So does my leaving it unmowed make any difference? And if I wanted to encourage a healthy fairy ring, what, if anything, might I do? Is it growing and spawning a new ring, or is that bad observation and a coincidence?
posted by Toekneesan to Science & Nature (6 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Mushrooms drop spores in a circle, and the spores grow into new mushrooms (which creates the original ring shape). My guess would be that the ring is growing larger in diameter because the mushroom spores sprout better in mown grass with less competition from other mushrooms (that is, each sporing creates a new geneation of mushrooms outside the ring, which over time makes it grow larger).

The smaller ring may be from just one mushroom that spored in that spot (you wouldn't have noticed the original single mushroom).
posted by girlgenius at 6:20 PM on May 12, 2014

You're not affecting it at all. The healthy grass is a side effect.

A fairy ring is an underground ring of fungus, burning its way outward from an initial infection site. As the fungus digests the plant material in the soil, it releases minerals. The minerals make the soil more fertile, and grass growing there will respond to that.

If you mow the grass, it won't affect the fungus at all.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:22 PM on May 12, 2014 [8 favorites]

Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies created by a fungus when it comes time to produce spores. The true mycelium body is underground, and it pushes mushrooms up into the air, so that the spores can be carried by the wind. After a few days or weeks, the mushrooms wither and collapse, but the body of the mycelium continues on as long as there's food for it to break down.

There are fairy rings in Europe which are miles across which date back centuries.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:28 PM on May 12, 2014 [6 favorites]

See also.
posted by mudpuppie at 6:30 PM on May 12, 2014

I've had one in my front yard for the last 6 years, that I know of. My strategy of benign neglect and regular, if infrequent, mowing doesn't seem to bother it at all.

I look forward to the fruiting every year or so. It doesn't cease to fascinate me.
posted by rock swoon has no past at 8:15 PM on May 12, 2014

Response by poster: Well this has been helpful. Thanks. Picture of said fairy ring.
posted by Toekneesan at 8:27 AM on May 15, 2014

« Older online masters in library science   |   Help me find my perfect reclining work chair Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.