fairy rings

truffler1635 at my-deja.com truffler1635 at my-deja.com
Fri Oct 1 10:53:03 EST 1999

In article <19990927231254.18988.00003355 at ng-fe1.aol.com>,
  woolspin at aol.comer (Woolspin) wrote:
> Can someone explain the phenomena around the fairy ring mushrooms?  I just saw
> a 8ft ring with some large mushrooms.  Very cool. What makes them grow like
> that?
Mushrooms spores tend to grow outward from a single inoculation site.
The site may contain one or 10,000 spores, depending on the species
involved (possibly 1,000 spores are necessary to start a new mycorrhizal

If these fungi grow continuously and perennially, they can take up
considerable space. Rings several hundred feet to several miles in
diameter are known. Probably the largest single organism on earth is
fungal in nature. But this take DNA analysis to prove, and will develop
with time. A single Armillaria sps. from Southern Oregon forms a fairy
ring nearly 30 miles in diameter. But no one knows whether it is a
single organism, or a combination of similar organisms.

Most of the "plant" portion of a fungus is underground. The threads from
a single cubic centimeter if laid end to end would exceed a kilometer; a
cubic inch would exceed 5 miles. The mushroom you see fruiting above
ground has approximately the same relationship to the below-ground
portion as an apple seed does to an apple tree, according to the late,
great mycologist Alexander H. Smith.

Daniel B. Wheeler

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