Fairy Ring Champignon Mushrooms (Marasmius Oreades) Identification

Fairy Ring Champignon/Spring/Summer/Autumn/Edible

Scientific Name

Marasmius oreades


Common Names

Fairy Ring mushroom, Elf rings.


Family

Marasmiaceae


Habitat

In grassy areas such as meadows, lawns, occasionally in sand dunes and woodland edges.


Description

A small but delicious tasting mushroom that usually appears in large numbers growing in rings. Sweet tasting and they dry very well.


Identifying Features:


Cap:

Buff to tan in colour the caps are bell shaped when small with a raised umbo, they flatten out with age but still retain the central raised bump. The colour can fade to almost white when old or dry.

Violmsyan, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Stem:

Off white. Fibrous and tough.

LukeEmski, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Gills:

White when young darkening slightly with age, they are quite widely spaced and thick and are free from the stem.

Jerzy Opioła, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Smell:

Mushroomy


Spores:

White.


Uses

In food

An excellent tasting mushroom, the stems can be quite tough so are often discarded. Traditionally the caps were threaded together with string or cotton and dried.


Harvesting

The mycelium of the fungi feeds the grass making it grow taller, thicker and greener, this can help you spot the mushrooms from a distance.
The rings can vary greatly in size depending on the age of the parent mycelium.
They contain high levels of sugar called trehalose, which prevents cell damage when the mushrooms become extremely dry. This means that they can survive for long periods drying out and rehydrating in the elements when other mushrooms would degrade.

LukeEmski, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Known hazards

Care should be taken when collecting this mushroom as its look-a-likes can appear in the same rings.


Potential lookalikes

Some of the funnels, in particular, the Fools Funnel (Clitocybe Rivulosa) can look similar and they also sometimes grow in rings but these have decurrent gills whereas Fairy Ring Champignons have free gills.

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