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1911 Encyclopedia Britannica
The popular name for the circular patches of a dark green colour that are to be seen occasionally on permanent grass-land, either lawn or meadow, on which the fairies were supposed to hold their midnight revels. They mark the area of growth of some fungus, starting from a centre of one or more plants. The mycelium produced from the spores dropped by the fungus or from the "spawn" in the soil, radiates outwards, and each year's successive crop of fungi rises from the new growth round the circle. The rich colour of the grass is due to the fertilizing quality of the decaying fungi, which are peculiarly rich in nitrogenous substances. The most complete and symmetrical grass rings are formed by Marasmius oreades, the fairy ring champignon, but the mushroom and many other species occasionally form rings, both on grass-lands and in woods. Observations were made on a ring in a pine-wood for a period of nine years, and it was calculated that it increased from centre to circumference about 82 in. each year. The fungus was never found growing within the circle during the time the ring was under observation, the decaying vegetation necessary for its growth having become exhausted.
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Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Fairy Ring'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/bri/f/fairy-ring.html. 1910.