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alkaline mixtures produce botrytis. What is the conclusion to be drawn from these facts ? That the fungi are mere metamorphoses of ordinary cellular tissue, without law of genus or species? Scarcely so. May we not rather bear in profitable recollection the recent discoveries of natural chemistry upon the mineral ingredients peculiar to each plant? When we mix up our compost for mushrooms, what is that we do but bring together, it may be, those mineral ingredients most favourable to the development of mushrooms from spores already floating in the air, or existing hitherto unquickened in the soil? Why does the botrytis select an alkaline bed, if it be not that the alkali is most favourable to its development ? Wheat will not grow in a soil destitute of siliceous matter, alkalies, and nitrogen; yet other plants will grow there, and perhaps exclusively. We are not, therefore, to attach much weight to an argument drawn from the, at first sight, striking fact, that by a mixture of certain well-known ingredients we can produce mushrooms, and that, consequently, they are merely chance developments arising out of the union of certain substances. Such a conclusion is altogether unsound. It is now well known that plants have a sort of individual bill of fare upon which, and which alone, they will thrive. It appears, therefore, more probable to suppose that the seeds, it may be, of several species of fungi exist in such substances as we mix together ; but the peculiar character of the mixture is favourable to the development only of one species-the common mushroom, the seeds of the others still lying dormant; rather than to suppose that they arise from no seminal germs, but, as it were, by an accident, which must be allowed to be constant in its occurrence. It is more in accordance with the principles of science to believe that the monilia of an acid liquid was developed from a spore which found in it the suitable pabulum it required, than to imagine that the monilia is the offspring of some inexplicable process of equivocal generation, which can only take place in an acid fluid. This is not the place to pursue the discussion ; and, at the risk of being thought tedious, we have followed it thus far only because the argument of spontaneous generation appears in some danger of being revived in the case of these plants. Altogether, however, it must be acknowledged that the subject is a very difficult one: the more learned the mycologist, the greater his perplexity.
Dr. Badham is disposed to consider the origin of fungals from seed, as in other plants; and that, further, the seed is in most cases furnished by, or, at least, latent in, the nidus in which they are developed. Although the theory he advocates is defended with spirit, and although it is certain that fungi actually occur in closed fruits, and in corollas of flowers when they are
sealed up in air-tight envelopes, it may still be fairly questioned whether the atmosphere does not, in a very large number of cases, waft the light sporules to their birth-place, where they become quickened into life by the usual forces.
From this subject, which may not appear to all our readers in the interesting and important light, and in the attractive garb, it possesses for some, we may appropriately turn to the consideration of a curious part of fungal history—their artificial production. The common mushroom is cultivated to a very large extent for the supply of our markets, and its production is as certainly insured by the methods resorted to, as in the ordinary case of plants produced from seed. The following plan, by M. Roques, is recommended by its simplicity, and is said to be infallible :
• Having observed that all those dunghills which abounded chiefly in sheep or cow droppings, began shortly to turn mouldy on their surface, and to bear mushrooms, I collected a quantity of this manure, which, as soon as it began to turn white, I strewed lightly over some melon-beds, and some spring crops of vegetables, and obtained in either case, and as often as I repeated the experiment, a ready supply of excellent mushrooms, which came up from a month to six weeks after the dung had been so disposed of; but as an equable temperature is in all cases desirable, to render the result certain, where this cannot be secured under the protection of glass, the next best plan is to scatter a portion of the above dungs, mixed with a little earth, in a cave or cellar, to which some tan is an excellent addition; for tan, though it kills other vegetable growths, has quite an opposite effect on funguses.'-Esculent Funguses, p. 42.
It has been recommended to throw the water in which fungi have been washed over a suitable spot, and the result is stated to be a good crop of the same species. In the Landes, on the authority of Dr. Thore, we are informed that the inhabitants are constantly successful in rearing the fungi called Boletus edulis, and Agaricus procerus, from a watery infusion of the said plants. But Dr. Badham, who carefully experimented upon the subject, was wholly unable to produce the same results; and other high authorities are given, where experiments proved equally vain.
Perhaps the most singular mode of producing funguses artificially is one which is largely resorted to by the Italian people. The fungus in this case is actually produced by a stone! This stone is called the Pietra funghaia. Cesalpinus has given directions for procuring it the whole year through, which, he says, is to be done either by irrigating the soil over the site of the stone, or by transferring the Pietra funghaia with a portion of the original mould, and watering it in our own garden. Porter
adds, that the funguses take seven days to come to perfection, and may be gathered from the naked block, if it is properly moistened, six times a year; but, in preference to merely watering the blocks, he recommends that a light covering of garden mould should be first thrown over them. This fungus-producing stone has a very limited range of territory, and lies embedded frequently in a variety of soils, in consequence of which its fungus is very variable in flavour, much depending upon the kind of humus in which its matrix happens to be placed. Those that grow on the high grounds above Sorrento, and on the sides of Vesuvius, are in less esteem among the mycophagous Italians than such as are brought into the Naples market from the mountains of Apulia ; most probably the spores of the fungus in question are actually contained in the porous upper surface of the stone, merely requiring heat and moisture for their development into life.
How many, of the poetical dreams of our childhood are destroyed with the advance of this cold, unspiritualizing age ! No longer let the reader, as he trips homeward in the dewy evening, when the shadows of night come creeping over hill and valley, hold his breath at passing a bright and luxuriant • Fairy Ring' in the meadow. No longer let him fear to put foot within its green circle, nor tremble at the consequences of disturbing the good people’ in their night-dances around on those once mysterious plots of grass. Mycological science comes, and, with her steady finger, picks out a half-dozen agarics, and accuses them of thus marking out Nature's green carpet into irregular circles. Nor have they anything to say against it. But more soberly
• To recapitulate the various fancies recorded on the subject of “ Fairy Rings ” would be a waste of time and paper. The fact that Agaricus orcades appears shortly after thunder-storms, gave rise to an opinion that the withered grass of its circles was lightning-blasted ; and in Captain Brown's notes to White's “ Selborne,” he quotes Mr. Johnson, of Wetherby, a correspondent of the “ Philosophical Journal," to this effect :-“ He attributes them to the droppings of starlings, which, when in large flights, frequently alight upon the ground in circles, and sometimes are known to sit a considerable time in these annular congregations !” If philosophy had but condescended to use a spade, the truth would then have been scented at least, for the earth beneath these bare rings is white with the spawn of the agaric causing them, and the peculiar smell either of Agaricus orcades or Agaricus Gcorgië is detected instantly; in fact, it is many times more potent than that of the fungus itself.'- British Mycology, part xiii.
• Fairy Rings' are of various sizes ; some are as small as to possess a diameter of only a foot or so, others have a circum
ference of ninety or a hundred feet. The phenomenon has long puzzled botanists, and although it is better understood now than formerly, it must be confessed that we are still in great ignorance about it. We must not be misunderstood. Let it be distinctly stated, there is not the least doubt in the minds of those who have paid the smallest attention to the subject that the cause of fairy rings is to be found in the fungi which people them—the difficulty is to account for the peculiar mode of growth which they thus adopt-the form of a circle often of the truest mathematical proportions. It is commonly accounted for by supposing that the seeds of the fungi are shed at first in a circular form, and that the plants progressively enlarge, retaining the same form, by projecting their seeds to a certain distance all round.
In winter and spring these circles exhibit a luxuriant growth of grass of the most brilliant and refreshing green. In summer they are seared and dry. It has been on this account considered that the débris of the past year's fungi serves as manure to the grass, which is much quickened and invigorated in growth thereby during those seasons when the fungi lie dormant; but when, as in summer, the fungi are awakened to activity, they then are too vigorous for the grass, deprive it of its proper nourishment, and thrive at its expense. Sometimes they become most unsightly, particularly when a lady is solicitous of keeping her lawn as smooth and elegant in appearance as her drawingroom carpet. The Society of Arts has offered a prize for the best method of eradicating them. We believe nothing will succeed but digging up the spawn-charged soil all round, and implanting in its place fresh soil and turf free from the same infection.
Considered as an article of diet, fungi assume an importance which has hitherto never been conceded to them in this country, and which indeed it is the main object of the work before us to advocate. From statistical details, which will be mentioned further on, it is rendered positively certain that a very large source of income and sustenance is annually left to exhaust itself in vain in our woods and meadows. And while we are anxious to lay down such restrictions as shall confine the use of fungi within the limits of safety, we are equally anxious to obtain for Dr. Badham a fair hearing on this interesting and important topic. While it is certain that a large number of serious, and even fatal, accidents have taken place from the consumption of deleterious fungi, it is equally certain that the popular prejudice against them ranges far, very far, beyond the boundaries of truth, and that a large number now condemned to decay unused, or even abhorred and despised, are as useful for the purposes of the table as those which enjoy the prescriptive privilege of
appearing there. The rule which appears to have influenced us has been the safe, but unphilosophical, one of rather condemning many innocent fungi, than run the risk of one injurious species finding its way to the larder.
It is very certain a large number of eminent names might be set down on the other side, and those of men who are themselves, in very truth, practisers of the mycophagus doctrines they uphold. M. Roques, a French writer on the fungi, and an advocate for their introduction to a wider range of utility, with the enthusiasm of his nation, gives at the end of his treatise a long list of his mycophilous friends, including in the number many of the most eminent medical men of Paris. Another writer tells us, that in seeing the peasants at Nuremburg eating raw mushrooms, he too, for several weeks, determined to follow their example, and with a greater degree of self-denial than can be safely recommended to other and more delicate lovers of the fungi, restricted himself entirely to this diet for several weeks. He ate with them nothing but bread, and drank nothing but water, and the odd result of this bold experiment was, that instead of finding his health impaired and his strength diminished, he came out of his period of discipline stronger and better than before.
The truth is, the only certain method of distinguishing them is a proper moderate botanical acquaintance with their conformation, and characteristic peculiarities. For those who cannot spare the time for the attainment of such knowledge, we would strongly recommend as an invaluable companion on a fungushunting expedition-presuming, of course, that its object is the collection of esculent fungi for the table—this book of Dr. Badham's. So soon as autumn comes and brings the fungi in its train, it is our own intention to put the work under our arm and plunge into the woods the very first opportunity. The admirably executed plates of the work are the chief guide-marks by which we intend to eat or avoid,' to collect or reject, and we are satisfied that pursuing their indications a safe and valuable article of food can be obtained at a trifling cost.
We must spare room for a few extracts upon the other uses which fungi may be made to subserve, in addition to their esculent properties.
Some, as the Polyporus sulphureus, furnish a useful colour for dyeing; the Argaricus atramentarius makes ink; divers lycoperdons have also been employed for stupifying bees, for staunching blood, and for making tinder. Gleditsch relates, that " amadou (which is a species of fungus prepared by boiling, and then beating out in sheets), is stitched together by the poorer inhabitants of Franconia, who make dresses of it; and also that the Laplanders burn it in the neighbourhood of their dwellings to secure their rein-deer from the attacks of gad-flies, which