Witch ring

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Fairy or witch ring
Witch ring of mushrooms
Hexenring on a meadow on the Sperrberg, Niedergailbach
Hexenring in a meadow near Gelnhausen (Hesse, Germany)

As witch rings or fairy rings (English fairy rings) are called semicircular or round growth patterns of mushroom fruit bodies, which arise because the mycelium of a mushroom grows equally quickly in all directions. The diameter of these structures can be very large depending on age. Witch rings are formed by different types of mushrooms in very different locations.

At the end of the mycelial threads, what the vernacular calls "mushroom" forms, the visible fruiting body . As the nutrients in the soil in the inner area of ​​the "circular mushroom accumulation" run out over time, the mycelium there dies and what remains is a ring-shaped structure, the so-called witch's ring. As a rule, a witch's ring is therefore a single organism. Under favorable conditions the mycelium can form fruiting bodies very quickly, so such rings can literally form overnight. In general, witch rings have a diameter of 20 cm to a few meters. The largest ring discovered so far measured about 600 meters in diameter. In Europe, such ring structures can occur in more than 60 of the known mushroom species.

The fungi often cause discolouration on lawns all year round, which is why witch rings are also counted among the lawn diseases.


Richard Doyle : Fairy Rings and Toadstools , 1875

The name Hexenring or Feenring goes back to popular belief , as one saw meeting places of witches or fairies in these round shapes , whose entry was magical or prohibited. Places of growth of special plants, for example those with special healing properties, are connected with spirit beings in different cultures.


So-called fairy circles have also been observed, especially in Namibia . These are not circles of visible mushroom fruit bodies, but ring structures of higher plants, mostly grasses . The bare interior of the circles is very likely due to the activity of the 'sand termites' Psammotermes allocerus , which eat the grass in the vicinity of their nest.

Furthermore, turf that has been tread in a circle is sometimes referred to as witch's rings, which can arise during the rutting season of the deer when the roebuck drives the doe. However, these are rarely exactly circular.


Witch ring-forming species

Misty Funnel's witch ring
Clitocybe nebularis as part of a ring

About 60 types of mushrooms are known that grow into witch rings.

One of the largest witch rings ever discovered was found near Belfort in France. This ring, formed by monk heads , is approximately 600 meters in diameter and is estimated to be over 700 years old. In the South Downs in the south of England there are large witch rings made of may mushrooms , the age of which is estimated to be several hundred years.

List of species

Web links

Commons : Witches Rings  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Hexenring  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

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  3. Hanns Bächtold-Stäubli: Vol. 3: Freen - lumbago . In: Eduard Hoffmann-Krayer (Hrsg.): Concise dictionary of German superstition . Unchangeable photomechan. Reprint d. Issued 1930/1931. de Gruyter, 2012, ISBN 978-3-11-085804-4 , p. 1881 .
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  12. Chanterelle Fairy Ring .
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