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Fabulous Fungi

Learn more about the mystical, suspicious beliefs behind mushrooms in Shakespeare's time

Fungi at MAF

Fascinating fungi have been popping up all over the farm in the last few weeks.  Delicate, almost fairy-like, ones pushing through the soil, and bulbous bubbling ones bursting forth from rotting wood.

In Shakespeare's time, fungi were viewed with suspicion.  However they were so frequently eaten that old herbals offered remedies against a surfeit of mushrooms!

In The Tempest (Act 5, Scene 1 (36)), Prospero says of the fairies—

     "You demi-puppets that by moonshine do the green-sour ringlets make,

      Whereof the ewe not bites, and you whose pastime is to make midnight mushrooms."

The allusion in this passage being to the superstition that sheep will not eat the grass that grows on fairy rings.