orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

October 2, 2013

Fairies dancing throughout Orange

Dawn Burleigh
The Orange Leader

ORANGE — Mushroom rings, commonly referred to as elves, pixie or fairy rings, have been seen throughout Orange.

The mushrooms grow in a arch or a perfect ring which folklore claims is a place were fairies appear to dance and play.

The scientific reasoning behind the rings is less mystical.

“The long drought with the recent rain triggered the mushrooms,” President of Gulf States Mycological Society David Lewis of Newton said. “Usually mushrooms appear during the summer. This is their last hurrah before the cooler weather.”

The circles are the result of a particular pattern of mycelium growth. Mycelium is the underground organism that produces the reproductive fruit bodies that is know as mushrooms. As the mycelium starts at a certain point and grows outward creating a circle. As the ground becomes depleted in an area, the circle will grow at the rate of 3 - 19 inches per year.

“This is the best I have seen in years,” Lewis said about the number of mushrooms appearing in the area.

Lewis also said he has picked over 60 pounds of edible mushrooms recently.

Soil conditions have to be just right as do other conditions such as the ground needs to be even and well composed. Mushrooms can appear in other locations but are most commonly found in lawns.

Lewis said there are records showing the Romans had knowledge of poisonous and nonpoisonous mushrooms.

Folklore says that humans are to avoid the center or risk punishment by the fairies.

On the positive side, fairy rings were said to bring good luck to houses built in fields where they occur. In another tradition, the rings were sites of buried treasure, but there was a catch - the treasure could only be retrieved with the help of fairies or witches.

In England, as their name suggests, they were places where fairies come to dance. The mushrooms around the perimeter were seats where the sprites could rest after their exertions.