fairy ring

noun
any of numerous mushrooms of meadows and open woods, especially the well-known Marasmius oreades, that spread in rings originating from mycelial growth: formerly supposed to mark the paths laid by dancing fairies.

Origin:
1590–1600

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Collins
World English Dictionary
fairy ring
 
n
1.  a ring of dark luxuriant vegetation in grassy ground corresponding to the edge of an underground fungal mycelium: popularly associated with the dancing of fairies: seasonally marked by a ring of mushrooms
2.  short for fairy ring mushroom, Marasmius oreades, a dainty buff-coloured edible basidiomycetous fungus, characteristically forming rings in grassland

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

fairy ring

a naturally occurring circular ring of mushrooms on a lawn or other location. A fairy ring starts when the mycelium (spawn) of a mushroom falls in a favourable spot and sends out a subterranean network of fine, tubular threads called hyphae. The hyphae grow out from the spore evenly in all directions, forming a circular mat of underground hyphal threads. The mushrooms that grow up from this circular underground mat form a similar pattern above ground. Gradually the underground mycelium at the centre of the circle dies out. Its living outer edges, however, keep growing year by year, and hence the diameter of the ring gradually increases. Over time the ring's underground segments die out, until the ring form on the surface can no longer be discerned.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Fairy ring disease of cranberry: causal agent and life cycle determined.
Fairy ring is a serious fungal disease of cranberry that kills vines and is difficult to control.
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