Fairy Rings

dwheeler at teleport.com dwheeler at teleport.com
Sat Mar 15 19:41:03 EST 1997


A recent thread should be continued.

The thread consists of comments on harvest of fairy ring mushrooms:
specifically, whether harvest damages the mycelium or not.

I think this has more to do with individual species than fairy rings in
general. There are certainly a wide variety of fungi which can form fairy
rings. I have personally seen nearly circular fruitings of Marasmius
oreades, chanterelles, boletes, matsutakes, Lepista, Coprinus, and even
Tubers. Considering how quickly the mycelium of many of these fungi can
grow under laboratory conditions on agar, I doubt fairy rings are a
reflection of spore germination.

Morchella angusticeps can cross a 3.5 inch Petri dish in 24 hours after
inoculation at 77 degrees. Does this mean that all Morels picked within a
300 foot radius all belong to the same initial spore or mycelium? I don't
think so!

Consider the spores released by a single mushroom. If fairy rings are the
fruits of a single mycelium, then growth outward should be relatively
constant from year to year. On the other hand, if spores are the fastest
method of fungal dissemintaion, the same 300 foot radius circle would be
colonized by literally hundreds if not thousands or millions of
inidividual mycelial colonies vying for the same food source.

It has been my experience in cultivating saprophytic fungi that, in
general, the first fungi to completely colonize the sapwood of a bedlog is
also the fungi most likely to produce fruiting bodies. A good thing to
keep in mind in cultivating mushrooms on bedlogs is that until the first
cut is made, live wood is quite capable of fighting off most saprophytic
infection. But once the wood has been cut, it is a case of the first hog
to the trough. The fastest growing, most effecient utilizer of the sapwood
is much more likely to colonize the entire log than an inefficient johnny-
come-lately which falls on the same substrate 3 months later.

Daniel B. Wheeler

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