Marasmius oreades

Fairy Ring Mushroom

Order Agaricales, Family Marasmiaceae  

CAP LIGHT TAN, WITH CENTRAL KNOB

Cap:  1-5 cm wide, at first bell-shaped with incurved cap edge, becoming convex to almost plane with broad knob; dry, smooth' usually buff to tan, sometimes white to reddish-tan

GILLS WHITE TO PALE TAN

Gills:  attached; wide-spaced from one another; broad; white to pale tan

STALK TOUGH AND PLIANT

Stalk:  2-8 cm long, 1.5-6 mm thick; smooth or with twisted ribs; color of cap or paler

DRY SPECIMENS REVIVE WHEN MOISTENED

SPORE PRINT WHITE

Spores 6-10 x 3.5-6 µm, smooth, elliptical

IN LAWNS IN CIRCLES ("FAIRY RINGS")

EDIBLE, CHOICE

Lookalikes:

The sweater (Clitocybe dealbata)  -- no umbo, gills crowded, thin, stem not tough

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE TO KNOW....

Some mushrooms are big, beautiful, and poisonous. Some are big, beautiful, and edible. Some are big, ugly, and poisonous. Many mushrooms are small and dull overall. The fairy ring mushroom is one of a small number of shrooms that is small, dull, and delicious. Its distinctive nutty taste is sought after in France, where it is called “champignon.”

Growing in grass in semi-circles or circles (See "fairy rings" below.), the fairy ring mushroom is probably the most common shroom in lawns in many areas. These fairy rings break the uniform green appearance of a lawn because the grass around the mushrooms grows faster and is usually darker green.  In addition, some grass turns brown, at least temporarily, as the circle expands. Mushroom-hating city dwellers go into shock if parts of their lawns are different shades of green. Thus, many residents despise the gourmet fairy ring mushroom.

Dry specimens of this mushroom will rehydrate after a rain, making it appear as if they've sprouted shortly after the clouds break.  Look for this mushroom to return year after year.

What are Fairy Rings?

Mushroom hunters are the only adults who know that fairy rings do, indeed, exist.

Fairy rings are circular paths of lush dark green grass separated by a browning narrow worn zone—a path that a tethered animal might wear at the limit of a chain. Mushrooms grow in a circle in the green zones of grass.  Understandably, it was once thought that the brown bare zone was worn down by dancing fairies.

In addition to M. oreades, the following city mushrooms are known to grow in fairy rings:  the meadow mushroom (Agaricus campestris), the vomiter (Chlorophyllum molybdites), and the shaggy parasol (Lepiota rachodes).  Unlike M. oreades, some kinds of mushrooms that form fairy rings do not affect the lawn at all.

In the U.S., stories suggest that fairy rings of mushrooms are said to mark the path of dancing fairies. A Swedish folk tale warns that if you enter the ring, you will become controlled by fairies. In Germany, it's told that the dead grass in a fairy ring marks the landing spot of a scorching dragon. And English stories advise that it's good luck to build a house on a fairy ring.

PENELOPE'S PANTRY

When I was a child, coconut macaroons were my favorite sweet treat.  I remember our housekeeper, Alice, tucking the hard, crispy macaroons fresh from the oven into my lunch box.  By the time the school bus collected me and I was settled into my seat for the trip to school, the macaroons had softened into a melt in my mouth sensation.  I just knew it was magic and justified eating them three hours before lunch by telling myself the cookies would continue to get softer and softer until they turned to liquid and then leaked out of my lunch box. 

Of course I know they wouldn't turn to liquid, but I still believed there was some mysterious, magical thing that Alice did to the macaroons to make them soften on their own.  Magical cookies for a fairy mushroom.

In addition to complementing the flavor of coconut, the fairy ring mushroom caps are good on their own.  They hold their shape when cooked and, in the city, have a long growing season -- as a result of lawn watering.  The stems are too tough to eat.  .

Fairy Ring Mushroom Macaroons

5 egg whites

2 c powdered sugar

2 ¼ c ground, blanched almonds

1 c finely diced raw fairy ring caps

4 2/3  c shredded coconut

grated peel of ½ lemon

1 ½ T white rum

Preheat oven to 300.  Grease two cookie sheets.

Beat the egg whites until stiff.  Fold in the sugar and ground almonds.  Add the remaining ingredients and work into sticky dough.  Put the mixture into a pastry bag and squeeze walnut-sized drops onto a greased cookie sheet.

Bake 15-20 minutes.  The cookies will be crispy at first but will soften when stored in a closed container.  Makes about 30 macaroons.

 

 


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