Fairy Ring Mushroom Marasmius oreades
A very common grassland species is the fairy ring mushroom. It is not the only mushroom that grows in a ring but it is the only one with that name. Fairy ring are small mushrooms with buff to tawny caps often with a distinct umbo. They have thin tough white stems without a ring. The gills are white and adnate (which means only attached at the very top of the stem).
They grows in very obvious rings in the grass from which they get their name. Fairy ring produces several flushes from late spring through the summer to early autumn. They are at their best in the morning or on damp days as they are readily dried up by hot sun and wind. They are able to dry up into a form of stasis in dry spells and then spring back to life when it rains. The mushroom species that can do this and are called resurrection fungi (Wood Ears are another example).
Although small they have a good flavour and texture, similar to Saint Georges Mushroom. In France they are known as Faux Mousseron and Saint Georges Mushroom are Vrai Mousseron because of their similarity. Because they are small they are easy to dry so a good mushroom for the store cupboard when other mushrooms are scarce.
When picking fairy ring great care must be taken not to pick other grassland species which may be growing mixed in with the fairy ring. There is a deadly species of funnel cap, the fool’s funnel, that also grows in rings, that can be mixed up with fairy ring.
The most distinct difference between them is how the gills are attached to the stem. In funnel caps the gills are clearly attached to the stem and run down it a short distance.