Mushrooms in a Line

October 18, 2019


Photographer: Dale Hugo 
Summary Authors: Dale Hugo; Jim Foster

It was the odd line up of these mushrooms, perhaps Agaricus subrufescens or a type of puffball, that captured my attention. I noticed them one night on a suburban lawn near my house in Arlington Heights, Illinois. This line of about 20 mushrooms extended nearly 10 ft (3 m), between the sidewalk and the street – approximately tangent to the dripline of the nearest tree. A few days before this picture was snapped, we had 0.4 in (10 mm) of rain that triggered mushrooms to sprout on lawn and garden areas in my community. But I didn’t see anything like this line of mushrooms.

Mushrooms are the above-ground, fruiting body of a fungus, but this structure is only the visible portion of an expansive organism that consists of a branching network of threads known as mycelium. Mycorrhizae are thought to occur on the roots of most tree species. A number of mycorrhizal fungi have specific host trees and form mutualistic or symbiotic relationships between the tree and the fungi. In fact, it’s believed about 25 percent of mushrooms that you might see when you take a stroll through the woods have a mutualistic relationship with trees. So, lines or patterns of mushrooms, such as shown above, are likely surface expressions of what’s going on in the far-ranging root system beneath a tree. Photo taken on September 19, 2019.

Photo Details: Two LED flashlights helped with illumination as did the flash on my cell phone. A picture in daylight didn't make the whitish mushrooms pop out like this shot, taken at 8:15 p.m.