Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a perfect circle of mushrooms growing on the forest floor? If that’s the case, you’ve found a fairy ring. Continue reading to learn more about this peculiar but somewhat magical phenomenon.
What is a fairy ring?
Fairy rings, also referred to as elf rings or pixie rings, are circles made of mushrooms that appear in nature. Some mushrooms are small, while others can reach a diameter of 600 meters as they emerge from the ground in a circular pattern.
What causes fairy rings?
Fairy rings are caused by an individual fungus growing underground. The fungus sprouts lots of small threads, called mycelium, in a circular shape. A year later, the mushrooms pop up out of the ground at the edge of the circle, creating the fairy ring. The circle will start off small in size, getting bigger as it gets older.
When and where to spot them
Fairy rings are most commonly found in woodland and grassy areas. The best time of year to see them is late summer to early autumn, and they are more likely to appear after wet weather.
Myths and stories about fairy rings
Different countries across Europe have their own folklore tales about fairy rings. In English and Celtic folklore, fairy rings were caused by fairies or elves dancing in a circle. It was said that if humans joined in the dance they would be punished by the fairies, and made to dance in the ring until they passed out from exhaustion.
In German folklore, things took a more sinister turn, as fairy rings were actually known as witches’ rings. It was believed they were the place where witches would dance on Walpurgis Night, a spring celebration taking place exactly six months before Halloween.
In Austrian mythology, dragons were to blame for the appearance of fairy rings. It was said they burned them into the forest floor with their fiery tails.
There are lots more mythical stories surrounding fairy rings. Some cultures believe that they are portals to another world, while others say that the mushrooms are simply used as dinner tables for fairies. There is also the belief that they bring good luck and that they are a sign of a fairy village underground. Another folklore story is that you should never step into a fairy ring, as you may become invisible or become trapped there forever.
Whatever you believe about fairy rings, they are definitely an exciting discovery if you ever stumble upon one in the woods. Just make sure you don’t touch the mushrooms, as some can be poisonous.