WHY MUSHROOMS GROW IN CIRCLES?
Mushrooms grow in circles and form a “fairy ring” because the fungus roots / mycelium grow out equally in all directions from the landed spore . As the fungus mature, it consumes the nitrogen out of the soil, the old fungus parts in the center die and the new ones expand, therefore forming a circle, which grows with time. The most common misconception is that a mushroom is an organism by itself, while a mushroom is only the fruiting body of the fungus (which can be invisible to the human eye) ; therefore now we understand how fairy rings can be hundreds of years old and keep growing!
The most common fairy ring creator is the Marasmius oreades (fairy ring champignon)
Everything in nature serves a purpose. The deeper answer to why mushrooms grow in circles is that actually the fairy rings engineer the flora in the ecosystem in them. The fungi can promote the growth of certain plants and suppress the development of others. This was concluded in an Italian research, where scientists were examining fairy rings during extended amount of time. The more years passed the less of plant diversity was found inside the ring.
This, of course, is somewhat known to mycologist.The biggest and oldest organism on the planet is in fact a honey fungus in Oregon, it is around 2 400 years old and 9.65 square kilometers. In the west coast rainforest has been observed other similar big fungus organisms, which can control the forest and create meadows inside of it.
Fungus can make soil out of death material and wood , it can control the growth of the forest itself, suppress or help the development of certain plants, plays a major role in the roots communication between trees, can fight off bacteria and turn ants into zombies! (Yep, maybe we should cover this in another blog). But the most important thing is that fungus is not one thing only.There are more than 2 million species of fungi only some of them fruit mushroom bodies (so far only 14 000 species of mushrooms are known to us). Their work is truly magical and special and it is no wonder why fairy rings have inspired so many cultures around the world to create the beautiful legends about the fairies dancing in the circle, portals to another worlds or simply the image that the rings are elves' dinner tables.
If you have seen my artworks, you definitely see how crazy I am about mushrooms too and how magical and beautiful they are for me. I have a small collection of items with mushroom designs on them. If you are a fungi fan, you can check them out here: https://forestbeings.com/collections/mushroom-tees