By CHERIL VERNON
PALESTINE — Though they consider it nature-made, Don Harris and his wife Fran and family members have been pondering the cause of a “fairy ring” found on their family farm in Pert, near Neches.
The circle is about 12 feet in diameter and features green grass on the circle perimeter. Large mushrooms are growing in the ring of the circle, but no where else in the field.
“It’s what we used to call a fairy circle or a fairy ring with toadstools in the circle,” Harris said. “It’s growing in the middle of nowhere — on a well-fed hay field where we have harvested hay on for the last 15 to 20 years. There’s nothing near it that would cause it that I know about. I don’t have an explanation for it except that it is from nature.”
A fairy ring, also known as a fairy circle, elf circle or pixie ring, is a naturally occurring ring or arc of mushrooms, according to Wikipedia. The name fairy ring comes from an old folk-tale. People once believed that mushrooms growing in a circle followed the path made by fairies dancing in a ring.
“We haven’t ruled out a UFO,” Harris joked about its likeness to a “crop circle.”
“We tease each other about it,” he added.
Harris said that when he worked as a broadcast newsman in the past, he once reported on a similar event.
“I once reported on a circle like this but it was burned, according them,” Harris said. “But this is something different. It’s a green circle, which is unusual this time of year because the grass is dormant. Maybe it’s something in the soil.”
And soil is more than likely the answer.
According to an article from turfgrass specialist Richard L. Duble from the AgriLife Extension program based out of Texas A&M; University, fairy rings are a disease caused by soil-inhabiting fungi.
“Development of the fairy rings starts with a germinating spore or a strand of mycleium and grows outward in all directions. The fungus feeds on organic matter in the soil. Fungal strands (mycelium) spread throughout the soil to a depth of 10 to 12 inches,” Duble wrote in the “Fairy Rings” article. “As the fungus grows, the first visible evidence of a new fairy ring is a cluster of mushrooms (the fruiting structure of the fungus) or a tuft of stimulated dark green grass. Later, as the fungi spread outward from the point of origin, the ring-like pattern develops.”
On the Web:
“Fairy Ring” article by turfgrass specialist Richard L. Duble
Photos of the Pert fairy ring