National Geographic : 1965 Oct
"Fingerprinting" dark-spored meadow mush rooms (Agaricus campester), Paul Zahl, Jr., re moves stems and lays the gilled caps on white pa per, covering each with a bowl overnight to keep out drafts. Presto-next morning falling spores have produced distinctive prints on the paper. KODACHROMES © NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY Fairy ring of mushrooms adorns a New Jersey meadow. Such cir cles, sometimes enclosing with ered grass, reveal the presence of underground fungus filaments, growing outward in a circular mesh, or plaque, from an original spore at the center. Fairy rings can be 50 feet or more across and hundreds of years old. Medieval Europeans believed that elves or fairies, dancing by night, trampled down the grass and sat on the mushrooms to rest. The rings were regarded as sa cred. "He wha cleans the fairy ring an easy deeth shall dee," promises a Scottish proverb. Comparing sizes of three "elf stools," Jimmy Zahl, the author's nephew, gets a close-up view of 8-inch-wide mushrooms (above).