Mushrooms put on spectacular show in Henderson

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Rains following a long dry spell often produce a mushroom spectacular.

Perhaps, nowhere have the mushrooms put on bigger show in Pike County than on the lawn of Henry Tidwell near Henderson.

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Tidwell scratched his head in amazement as he explained how the mushrooms have circled the lawn.

“First, they came up in a circle and then another circle and formed a figure eight,” Tidwell said. “I’d never seen anything like it. I’ve seen a lot of mushrooms in my day but I’ve never seen them make a circle. It was an amazing thing to me.”

Mushrooms aren’t the most durable “performers,” especially if a dog is anywhere around.

“The mushrooms made almost a perfect circle and you could see the figure eight really good and then my dog started eating them,” Tidwell said laughing. “A lot of folks stopped to look at the circle. I’ve gotten a kick out of it myself.”

The circle is made up primarily of single mushrooms but small and large clusters have their places in the circle, too.

Tidwell said the mushrooms are similar in color and size but have different patterns.

“They are pretty to look at and real interesting,” he said. “But the most interesting thing to me is the circle and the figure eight. But it’s hard now to see the figure eight because much of it’s gone.”

Tidwell said the most recent mushroom spectacular is the second this year.

“The mushrooms came up in a circle and then came up again,” he said. “I don’t know if they’ll come back next year but I’ve enjoyed them this year.”

Dr. Alvin Diamond, Department of Biological Science, Troy University, said the mushroom circles are “fairy rings.”

“The rings are also known as elf rings or pixie rings,” he said. “They are naturally occurring rings or arcs of mushrooms. After a long, dry period, rain causes the mushrooms to swell up and what you see is actually the reproductive structure of the fungus. About 99 percent of the mushroom is underground in a body of threads called mycelium. These threads can be different colors. They grow out in every direction and can make the circles known as fairy rings.”

Diamond said fairy rings are most often found in forests but can be found in open grassy places.

The name fairy ring comes from a folk tale where people believed that mushrooms followed the path made by fairies dancing in a ring.

Fairy rings have a place in European folklore as a gateway to places where elves gather and dance.

According to the folklore, a fairy ring appears when a fairy appears and will disappear without a trace in less than five days.

If there’s any truth to that, perhaps, Tidwell’s dog didn’t eat the mushrooms after all.

And, the dog is having nothing to say about that.