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EDIBLE

AND

POISONOUS MUSHROOMS.

EDIBLE

AND

POISONOUS MUSHROOMS:

WHAT TO EAT AND WHAT TO AVOID.

BY

M. C. COOKE, M.A., LL.D., » « *

AUTHOR OF "HANDBOOK OF BRITISH FUNGI," " FUNGI : THEIR NATURE, USES," "TOILERS IN THE SEA," ETC.

WITH EIGHTEEN COLOURED PLATES ILLUSTRATING FORTY-EIGHT SPECIES.

PUBLISHED UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE GENERAL^* ***** LITERATURE COMMITTEE.

LONDON : SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE,

NORTHUMBERLAND AVENUE, W.C. ; 43, QUEEN VICTORIA STREET, E.C.

New York: E. & J. B. YOUNG & CO. 1894.

>L,(P3

CONTENTS.

PAGE

PREAMBLE

l t

y

EDIBLE MUSHROOMS :

RUDDY WARTY CAPS

. 29

DELICIOUS MILK-MUSHROOM

. 31

COMMON MUSHROOM ...

. 33

PARASOL MUSHROOM

. 35

st. george's mushroom

. 37

BLUE CAPS ...

. 39

FAIRY RING CHAMPIGNON ...

. 41

BLEWITS

. 43

DUSKY CAPS

. 45

VEGETABLE BEEF-STEAK

. 47

HORSE MUSHROOM ...

. 49

HEDGEHOG MUSHROOM

. 51

IYORY CAPS ...

. 53

INKY MUSHROOM

.. 55

SHAGGY CAPS

.. 57

LITTLE IVORY CAPS...

.. 59

GIANT PUFF BALL ...

.. 61

SWEETBREAD MUSHROOM

.. 63

HORN OF PLENTY ...

.. 65

CHANTARELLE

.. 67

EDIBLE BOLETUS

.. 69

VI CONTENTS.

PAGE

edible mushrooms (continued) :

BUFF CAPS ... ... ... ... ... 71

WHITE HELVELLA ... ... ... ... 73

COMMON MOREL ... ... ... ... 75

LANKY MOREL ... ... ... ... 77

TRUFFLE ... ... ... ... ... 79

POISONOUS MUSHROOMS I

FLY MUSHROOM ... ... ... ... 83

CONIC LAWN MUSHROOM ... ... ... 85

BUFF WARTY CAPS ... ... ... ... 87

LIBERTY CAPS ... ... ... ... 89

DUNG SLIMY CAPS ... ... ... ... 91

CLUSTERED PINK-GILLS ... ... ... 93

STYPTIC SIDEFOOT ... ... ... ... 95

CLUSTERED YELLOW MUSHROOM ... ... 97

SULPHURY MUSHROOM ... ... ... 99

GREEN SLIMY CAPS ... ... ... ... 101

MAGPIE MUSHROOM ... ... ... ... 103

WOOD WOOLLY FOOT ... ... ... 105

BITTER STRAW RUSSULE ... ... ... 107

ACRID MILK-MUSHROOM ... ... ... 109

SHAM MUSHROOM ... ... ... ... HI

EMETIC RUSSULE ... ... ... ... 113

FIERY MILK-MUSHROOM ... ... ... 115

WOOLLY MILK-MUSHROOM ... ... .... 117

WHITE WOOLLY MILK-MUSHROOM ... ... 119

BITTER BOLETUS ... ... ... ... 121

SATANIC BOLETUS ... ... ... ... 123

LURID BOLETUS ... ... ... ... 125

LIST OF ILLUSTKATIONS.

EDIBLE MUSHROOMS.

PLATE

FIG.

I.

1.

Ruddy Warty Caps

...

Amanita rubescens.

2.

Delicious Milk-Mushroom

Lactarius deliciosus.

3.

Common Mushroom

. ..

Psalliota campestris.

II.

1.

Parasol Mushroom

...

Lepiota procera.

2.

St. George's Mushroom ...

Tricholoma gambosa.

III.

1.

Blue Caps

...

Tricholoma nuda.

2.

Champignon

...

Marasmius oreades.

3.

Blewits ...

...

Tricholoma personata.

IV.

1.

Dusky Caps

...

Clitoeybe nebularis.

2.

Beef-steak

...

Fistulina hepatica.

V.

1.

Horse Mushroom

...

Psalliota arvensis.

2.

Hedgehog

...

Hydnum repandum.

3.

Ivory Caps

•» .

Hygrophorus virgineus.

VI.

1.

Inky Mushroom ...

...

Coprinus atramentarius.

2.

Shaggy Caps

...

Coprinus comatus.

3.

Little Ivory Caps

...

Hygrophorus niveus.

VII.

1.

Puff Ball

...

Lycoperdon bovista.

2.

Sweetbread

...

Clitopilus orcella.

3.

Horn of Plenty ...

...

Cratercllus cornucopioidcs,

4.

Chantarelle

...

Cantharellus cibarius.

VIII.

1.

Edible Boletus ...

•••

Boletus edulis.

2.

Buff Caps

...

Hygrophorus pratcnsis.

IX.

1.

White Helvella ...

•••

Helvella crispa.

2.

Morel

•••

Morchella esculenta.

3.

Lanky Morel

•••

Morchella semilibera.

4.

Truflle

«••

Tuber cestivum.

Vlll

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

POISONOUS MUSHROOMS.

TLATE FIG.

x. 1. Fly Agaric

2. Conic Lawn Mushroom

xi. 1. Buff Warty Caps

2. Liberty Caps

3. Dung Slimy Caps xn. 1. Wavy Pink Gills

2. Styptic Sidefoot XIII. 1. Tufted Wood Mushroom

2. Sulphury Mushroom

3. Green Slimy Caps xiv. 1. Magpie

2. Wood Woolly Foot XV. 1. Bitter Russule ...

2. Acrid Milk-Mushroom

3. Sham Mushroom XVI. 1. Emetic Russule ...

2. Fiery Milk-Mushroom

3. Shaggy Milk-Mushroom xvn. 1. White Milk-Mushroom

2. Bitter Boletus ... xvill. 1. Satanic Boletus ...

2. Lurid Boletus ... ,

Amanita muscaria. Hygrophorus conicus. Amanita plialloides. Psilocybe semilanceatus. Stropharia scmiglobata. Entoloma sinuatus. Panus stypticus. Hyplioloma fascicularis. Tricholoma sulphurca. Stropharia aeruginosa. Coprinus picaceus. Marasmius ■pcronatus. Russula fellea. Lactarius acris. Hcbcloma fastibilis. Russula emetica. Lactarius pyrogalus. Lactarius torminosus. Lactarius vellercus. Boletus /elicits. Boletus satanas. Boletus htridus.

CO

en

PREAMBLE.

It is an accepted fact that some fungi of the mushroom type are poisonous, whilst others are edible, but the problem to be solved is, which are good, and which are bad. To assist in the solution we have given an unusual quantity of coloured illus- trations of both kinds, and from these, in combination with a few practical obser- vations, we hope to render a satisfactory answer. It must, at the outset, be under- stood that there are no general rules, capable of universal application, whereby edible may at once be distinguished from poisonous fungi. Our task would be an easy one if such a "royal road' could be ^ discovered, but unfortunate] y every effort

2^

«=£ ~3

10 PREAMBLE.

to apply general rules has failed, and no possible course remains but to become acquainted with every individual species which we resolve to eat, and, collaterally, those which we should specially avoid. It may not be out of place to remark that there are some features manifested in connection with poisonous or disagreeable fungi which should be borne in mind, as tending to diminish labour in investigation. For instance, it may be concluded that fungi which possess a distinctly disagreeable odour may be discarded at once as un- wholesome. Then, again, any kinds, the flesh of which, when cut or bruised, distinctly changes colour, especially to a dark blue, should be avoided. Even the Common Mushroom will sometimes turn brown when cut, and some other of the edible species will show a slight change, but it is the immediate and rapid change to a deep blue which should be accepted as a paramount signal of danger. It may safely be conduded that any species of

PREAMBLE. 1 1

which a small fragment when eaten raw is biting and unpleasant, is not worthy of experiment, and in the majority of in- stances will prove deleterious when cooked. Another precaution may be added, that such fungi as contain a milky juice, which exudes freely on being cut or wounded, should not be eaten without careful de- termination. Once for all, it must be insisted upon, that in order to avoid danger, no fungi should be eaten at random, and only those which, after careful examination, are found to agree with figure and descrip- tion, unless practically well known, should be prepared for the table. No method is so safe as that which consists in mastering the characteristics of a few species, especially when pointed out by one who is practically conversant with them, and increasing the number with experience. There are cer- tainly some seventy or eighty common species to be found in this country which may be eaten with safety, but if only ten or twelve of these are well known, they

12 PREAMBLE.

will furnish, all the variety which an ordinary person will require. We have ourselves eaten of more than sixty different species, and yet seldom eat of more than from six to ten in any given year. Ex- periments in eating unknown fungi, or those concerning which any doubt exists, should on no account be encouraged. We may not possess so many truly poisonous species as has been supposed, but that we do possess some is an undoubted fact, and it should be remembered as a caution. Thorough and persistent fnngus-eaters never experiment upon unknown species, but only upon those which are known by experi- ence to be harmless, or which by their natural affinities afford no possible reason for doubt.

Characteristic and accurate figures are a great help in the determination of species, but figures alone are scarcely sufficient for the inexperienced, and should always be supplemented by a reference to the written description. Features of importance may

PREAMBLE. 13

be overlooked in scanning a figure, but these may be emphasized in the description. Moreover, there are features which cannot be represented in diagrammatic form, which may nevertheless be very evident in the fungus itself, such as viscidity, odour, and taste.

With one or two exceptions all the figures are representations of fungi which possess a stem and a pileus, or cap. However much these may vary in size and form, they are nevertheless present. In the majority of instances the cap, which sur- mounts the stem, is furnished on the under surface with numerous parallel plates, or gills, which radiate from the stem to the margin of the cap. The Common Mushroom is one of this type of gill-bearing fungi. There are, however, a few illustrations of species in which the gills are replaced by pores, the whole under surface of the cap being even, and punctured with very numer- ous little holes, as if pricked with a pin, and these are the pore-bearing fungi, of which

14 PREAMBLE.

the Edible Boletus is the type. One other example, that of the Hedgehog Mushroom, illustrates a type in which the gills, or pores, are replaced by teeth, or spines, which beset the whole of the under surface of the pileus, or cap. These three groups may be distinguished from each other by features which are distinct and unmistakable, so that there need not to be a moment's hesitation in their application. The few additional forms which do not conform to any of these groups need not be mentioned here, but will be described hereafter under their separate names.

Reverting to the original definition, in which a stem and pileus, or cap, are the two elements, we must remark that, in the gill-bearing fungi, this stem may have a ring or collar surrounding it near the apex, or the ring may be entirely absent. This is an important feature in the discrimination of species, since it forms a part of the specific character. It is present in the Common Mushroom, but it is absent in the

PREAMBLE. 15

Blewits, not by accident, but persistently. Herein, then, we have one valuable guide in the discrimination of species. Further- more, the base of the stem, in a few instances, is enclosed in a sheath, or volva, which may be comparatively loose, and distinct, as in the Buff Warty Caps, or it may be closely adherent, showing only a circular line or ring, as in the Euddy Warty Caps and the Fly Agaric. This, again, is peculiar only to certain species, and should be borne in mind. Appertaining to the stem, it may be observed that it is often desirable, when the name of a species has to be determined, to cut the stem longitudinally down the middle, and by this means it will be found that in some species the stem is hollow in the centre, whilst in others the stem is solid. All these are points which should be borne in mind by those who have no desire to poison themselves.

One other point is of equal importance to, if not greater than any which we have

1 6 PREAMBLE.

named, and that is the colour of the spores produced by each species. When any of the gill-bearing fungi are expanded, and near maturity, the gills will be observed to vary in colour, some being white, and others of almost any tint of grey, or brown, to black. But the colour of the gills must not be relied upon as that of the spores, for in some cases the gills may be more or less coloured, whilst the spores remain white. To ascertain accurately the colour of the spores, the stem should be cut off close to the under-side of the cap, and then the severed cap should be placed, with the gills downward, upon a sheet of paper, and permitted to remain in that, position all night. In the morning the spores will have fallen from the gills upon the paper, outlining the form of the cap, and showing the radiating lines of the gills. If the spores are believed to be white, or light- coloured, opaque black paper should be employed ; but if very dark, or black, then white paper should be used. This enables

PREAMBLE. 17

the colour to be more accurately determined. The whole series of colour may be classed in five groups white, pink or salmon, rusty-brown, purple-brown, and black. Of course the shades will vary in most of the groups, but especially in the second and third. It is most important that the colour of the spores should be determined first of all, and then it will be less difficult to discover the species to which they belong. A great number of the species with white spores are edible, but some are dangerous, so that the colour of the spores is not a test of quality. Again, most of the species with pink or salmon-coloured spores are suspicious, whilst two or three are excellent food. Take, for example, the Common Mushroom, which when young has the gills of a beautiful pink colour ; as it becomes older the gills darken, and when the spores are ripe enough to fall, they are not pink, but purple-brown. If an inexperienced person finds a species of " mushroom," or fungus of the mushroom type, with pink

B

1 8 PREAMBLE.

gills, and thinks, on that account, it must be the Common Mushroom, this method should be tried, and the colour of the spores ascertained, for if the spores are pinkish, then the fungus in question is not the true mushroom, and is possibly dangerous ; but if the spores are dark purple-brown, not- withstanding that the gills were at first pink, then it is perfectly safe. So that the colour of the spores is a question of importance, and should not be neglected, supposing, of course, that the person inter- ested is not perfectly sure, from experience, that the right species is under observation. We have actually known persons mistake white or pink-spored Agarics for mush- rooms, which they could not have done had they paid attention to the colour of the spores. In another instance we re- member a foolish youth cooking and eating a small species with rust-coloured spores, under the impression that they were the Fairy King Champignon, which latter has white spores. Fortunately, in this case,

PREAMBLE. 19

the fungus eaten was not a poisonous one, but no one had ever tested it, and it was regarded with suspicion.

It is a popular error that a " mushroom ' may be distinguished from a "toadstool5 by the cuticle of the cap. Some j3ersons hold that if the cuticle, or skin, of the cap or pileus can be stripped off readily, then the fungus in question is an edible mush- room ; but if it cannot be stripped off, in that case it is poisonous. The cuticle is certainly separable in the mushroom, both wild and cultivated, but in numerous instances where it is separable in other species, they are certainly dangerous ; whereas in some ex- cellent species, which are constantly eaten, there is no separable cuticle. A wag was once heard to declare that he knew of only one universal and infallible method for determining an edible from a poisonous mushroom, and that was by eating it. If it did you no harm it was edible, but if it killed you, or made you ill, then it was unfit for food. Against this experimental method

20 . PREAMBLE.

we take exception in favour of d priori determination.

It should be borne in mind that fungi which grow upon trees are not likely to be found growing on the ground, and that those which inhabit pastures should not be sought in woods. In most species there is a great persistence in habit, and, not- withstanding some variability in form, size, and colour, comparative permanence in character, or in such characters as are relied upon for the discrimination of species. A species which possesses a ring upon the stem, for instance, or warts upon the pileus, always has them, unless denuded by accident. Hence the different species may be distinguished by specific characters, as in plants of a higher organization, so that the ordinary process of determination, as employed in other departments of botany, is equally applicable here, and the results are equally satisfactory.

The assumption that fungi of the same species, growing in different localities, may

PREAMBLE. 2 1

be so modified by circumstances as to lose or acquire poisonous properties, has not been established. One of our most virulent native species has undoubtedly been eaten in Kussia with no disagreeable results, but there is no evidence that the character of the fungus had changed, whilst there is every reason to believe that the process of cooking adopted was calculated to produce such results. It is very probable that the poisonous principle existing in any fungus, as it is grown, may be neutralized by the use of acids or alkalies. Fungi of the mushroom type grow rapidly, and rapidly decay. Chemical change taking place so readily, it is important that this class of food should be cooked as speedily as possible after it is gathered, before any appreciable change takes place. It is by no means certain that stale mushrooms are innocuous, and, in some cases where mush- rooms have been accused of producing unpleasant effects on delicate constitutions, it is possible that the cause was not in

22 PREAMBLE.

the mushrooms originally, but was developed by incipient decay.

We would fain dispel the illusion that the Common Mushroom is the type to which all edible fungi must conform, and that all others should be compared with it. There are some which are of the same flavour, or closely resemble it, whilst there are others of a wholly different kind. Much disappointment is liable to follow if, in all cases, it is expected to meet with the mushroom in some modified form. There is as much difference in the peculiar flavour of different species as there is in the different kinds of flesh. No one would be satisfied if veal tasted like mutton, or roast pork like roast beef, and there is just as much difference in the various kinds of edible fungi. In some of them the flavour is completely novel, and produces a new sensation for instance, there is not the least resemblance between the Puff Ball and the ordinary mushroom, or between the latter and the Hedgehog. It is in

PREAMBLE. 23

this great variety that much of the charm lies, otherwise it would be better to adhere to the ordinary mushroom than venture upon others which would be no better than substitutes. In tasting of a new dish, therefore, it is better to forget the old one for the time, and expect to partake of something which has to rest upon its own merits, and not upon its resemblance to anything else.

As a natural consequence of this variety of flavour, it is essential that each species should be used by itself, and not mixed, several kinds together, in a sort of hotch- potch, where no particular flavour prevails, but all are reduced to a horrible mediocrity. A professed fungus-eater would no more think of sitting down to a dish compounded indiscriminately of half-a-dozen species, than would a gourmet of mixing his wines, or combining his venison with his salmon and turkey.

Much of the excellence of a dish of fungi depends upon the cook, for a bad cook

24 PREAMBLE.

will spoil the best dish that was ever invented. It is no part of our present design to give special instructions in the art of cooking mushrooms, but there is an art in it which makes all the difference. Frankly, the ordinary domestic cook, without special experience, never succeeds well even with the Common Mushroom ; it requires a kitchen genius to present them at their best. We never deemed it possible for Chantarelles to be so delicious as we tasted them once, when manipulated by an old cook from a Swiss Hotel, who chanced to be in the way, and volunteered to under- take the task con amove. It has been said that " mushrooms are the gift of Nature, but a good cook is the gift of God."

In uttering a protest against grilling, or frying in an open pan, so that much of the aroma and flavour disappears up the chimney, we may suggest an improved method, which is applicable to many kinds. Lay the mushrooms, when wiped, sliced, or otherwise prepared, in a shallow dish,

PREAMBLE. 25

sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place a small piece of butter on each, cover closely with a plate, and place them in an oven, so that they are cooked gradually, and all the aroma and flavour is retained. Serve them hot, in the same dish, and without un- covering. Even this method is not equally good for every kind, but it is the only general one which we can recommend.

Finally, we must assume that all who use this little book will have arrived at the age of discretion, and that there is no occasion to urge upon them the exercise of common-sense. Punishment will follow inordinate indulgence in any of the good things of this life, and those who disregard reason, and are intern perate in eating fungi, must expect to suffer from repletion and in- digestion. It is essential to insist upon an avoidance of all unknown or doubtful kinds Ordinary care and judgment are sufficient to avoid danger, but so many persons neglect ordinary care and tempt misfortune by indiscretion, that it is necessary to

26 PREAMBLE.

repeat caution against foolish experiments'. Be sure to know and distinguish your mushrooms first, and eat them afterwards, but do not rely upon a fancied external appearance, without comparing them with the written description, unless they have been guaranteed and recommended by some competent person. There is no more danger of eating bad funsri than of eating bad fish, if the same amount of discrimination is exercised. Better to be too .timid, as some are, and refuse to eat mushrooms at all, than to be too reckless, and nesdect the simplest precautions to ensure safety.

EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS.

EDIBLE MUSHROOMS.

The number of kinds here enumerated is comparatively small, but it includes all tlie best, the most available, and indeed all that are essential to be popularly known, of the two hundred, and upwards, of edible species hitherto known to have occurred in the British Islands. The residue consists of such kinds as are of inferior quality, and largely of species which have been found so rarely that their mention could have served no useful purpose. Undoubtedly it is more satisfactory that some twenty or thirty sound species should, be known and recog- nized, especially if sufficiently common to

28 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS.

be within the reach of all, than that even three times that number should have been described, which perhaps have never been met with but two or three times, and may possibly never occur again. It may be taken for granted that no species has been omitted which can be favourably re- commended, or which is sufficiently common to be encountered, in ordinarily favourable seasons, in congenial localities. Again, it is uro-ed on all to learn to discriminate a few of the very best kinds, without fear of error, and confine attention to those, and neglect the rest.

EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 29

RUDDY WARTY CAPS.

Agaricus (Amanita) rubescens.

(Plate I. Fig. 1.)

This excellent esculent is one of the commonest, under trees, from early summer to late autumn. The cap is of a peculiar reddish-grey colour, sprinkled with numerous paler warts. The substance is firm and robust, at first whitish, then tinged with red, especially where touched or bruised, and at the basis of the stem, where an obscure scaly circle represents the margin of the adnate volva. The stem is thick, tapering upwards, having near the apex a large white pendulous collar, or ring. The gills are broad, reaching nearly to the stem, but not attached to it, white at first, but turning reddish when bruised. The tone of red is that of brick-red, and not scarlet or crimson. Sometimes it will stand about five inches high, with an expanded cap of three or four inches. The flesh is very

30 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS.

susceptible of becoming " maggoty J when old, and it should always be collected for the table before the cap is fully expanded, and then it is perfectly wholesome. The flavour is mild, but both in odour and taste less aromatic than the Common Mushroom. Although the younger specimens, when the cap is hemispherical, are to be preferred for cooking, the older and more expanded, when not attacked by insects, will make excellent ketchup. There is no fear of confounding the present with any other species if only ordinary care is exercised, and we have never heard of its disagreeing with any one who has partaken of it.

EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 31

DELICIOUS MILK-MUSHROOM.

Lactarius deliciosus.

(Plate I. Fig. 2.)

The Milk-Mushrooms (Lactarius) differ from all others in containing a white, or coloured, milk, which oozes out freely when cut or wounded. The present species only grows under fir-trees, somewhat earlier than the general crop of fungi, being in greatest plenty about August or early in September. It is firm and solid in texture, with a very short stem, so that the cap is close to the ground, about two or three inches in diameter, pale brick-red, with a tinge of orange, usually marked with darker zones ; the centre of the cap is depressed, and the margins curved inwards. The whole plant abounds with an orange milk, which exudes when cut or wounded, and on exposure soon turns green, so that the fungus appears to be stained green. There is no other fungus possessing an orange milk which becomes

32 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS.

green. This milk, and the mushroom itself, has a rather biting taste when fresh, but this disappears with cooking. It requires great care and delicacy in cooking or it becomes tough and indigestible, but with good manipulation it furnishes a delicious dish. The most successful method is that of cutting into uniform segments, and placing the pieces in a dish, with pepper and salt, and a small piece of butter to every group. Cover the dish, and bake very gently for three-quarters of an hour, without uncovering, to be served at once in the same hot dish. There are other methods, but, in all, the golden rule is to cook gradually and slowly, and serve hot.

EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 33

COMMON MUSHROOM.

Agaricus (Psalliota) campestris.

(Plate I. Fig. 3.)

Very little description is needed for this well-known species, the marvel being how any one can possibly confound it with any other kind, and yet we read occasionally of mishaps from eating something else in mistake. The stem is surrounded by a well-defined collar or ring, the gills are of a delicate pink when young, becoming at length of a deep brown ; the cap is some- times smooth and sometimes more or less scaly, with a separable cuticle ; the odour is distinct and fragrant, and the taste, when raw, nutty and pleasant. The kind sold so commonly by greengrocers in London, by no means attractive in appearance, consists for the most part of the Horse Mushroom. In the markets of provincial towns we have only seen the true mushroom exposed for sale, as the Horse Mushroom is considered

34 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS.

by country people as only fit for ketchup. The price varies in London, as elsewhere. We have been asked 2^d. per jDound in Hereford Market on one day, and found an inferior article being sold in London the next day at eightpence per pound. We have noted the price in Paris on two or three occasions, and found it one -half the price demanded in London at the same time, where, one year in particular, the price was ranging from one shilling and eightpence to two shillings per pound in Co vent Garden Market. It is the general opinion with connoisseurs that the wild mushroom is much more delicate and of better flavour than the cultivated varieties, and less liable to disagree with delicate stomachs. Occa- sionally a dark-brown scaly-capped variety may be found in parks, with pink gills, which is scarcely wholesome.

PL. 1.

EDIBLE MUSHROOMS.

EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 35

PARASOL MUSHROOM.

Agaricus (Lepiota) procerus.

(Plate II. Fig. 1.)

The Parasol Mushroom is so designated from its erect, straight, slender stem and expanded cap, not very unlike the object after which it derives its name. It is not uncommon in summer and early autumn, mostly amongst dead leaves, and occasion- ally attains a large size, with a stem ten inches long, and a cap six inches broad. Sometimes it will be found in pastures and under trees, and is of a very dry texture, shrivelling when old before it decays. The top of the pileus is conical and dark, but the rest is paler and silky, covered with scattered darker scaly patches. The gills are white and broad, narrowed towards each end, and not reaching the stem, which consequently appears to be sunk into the cap, with a hollow all round it. The base of the stem is bulbous, and, for some

36 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS.

distance up it, is marked with striate, irregular bands ; above the middle the stem is girt by a large collar or ring, which at length frees itself from the stem. The spores, like the gills, are white. The flesh is white, and rather soft, with a tendency to change colour when exposed to the air, and the centre of the stem is hollow. Divested of the stem, and a little butter put in its place, with pepper and salt, it may be grilled and served on toast, when it forms a pleasing breakfast dish, hardly to be surpassed by any of our ordinary species. The flavour is mild and delicate, with the odour of the mushroom when brought to the table. As far as our experience goes, it is a universal favourite.

EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 37

ST. GEORGE'S MUSHROOM.

Agaricus (Tricholoma) gambosus.

(Plate II. Fig. 2.)

There are not many mushrooms in the spring, and to possess a really good sub- stitute on St. George's Day is a decided advantage, only that the St. George's Mushroom appears to be provokingly local. The cap reaches to three or four inches in diameter, and it is of a creamy whiteness in every part, sometimes with a darker tinge on the top of the cap. Altogether, it is of a robust habit, and a peculiarly strong odour, more penetrating than that of any other mushroom with which we are acquainted. It comes up in rings on rich pastures, and even the spawn, or mycelium, possesses the strong odour. The margin of the pileus has a constant tendency to curve inwards, the gills and spores are white, and the stem has no trace of a collar, or ring. There is an abundance of thick

38 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS.

flesh, which is about an inch thick in the centre of the pileus, and remarkably firm ; it may even be cut in slices and dried for winter use. On one occasion a good friend in the north sent us a hamper of speci- mens for the table, as it is rare in the neighbourhood of London, but the odour was so powerful and oppressive that the house was soon filled with it, and we were compelled to transfer the mushrooms to an outhouse until the hour of sacrifice arrived. The nearest species with which it can be compared is the Blewits, but the latter is an autumnal, and this a spring species. Moreover, there is no tinge of lilac in the St. George's Mushroom, and the odour of the Blewits is far less intense.

PL. 2,

EDIBLE MUSHROOMS.

EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 39

BLUE CAPS.

Agaricus (Tricholoma) nudus.

(Plate III. Fig. I.)

The Blue Caps are mostly found, grow- ing in company, amongst dead leaves, or even on the ground, in woods and shady places. The entire plant, when well grown, is of a beautiful lilac colour, but the top of the cap soon shows a tendency to turn of a dull reddish, or vinous colour. Usually the cap is from two to three inches in diameter, but we have seen them attain to six inches, often contorted through growing in tufts. The spores are white, and the stem has no collar or ring. The flesh is firm and solid, of the same tint, but paler than the exterior, and there is a slight mealy odour. This species is often found with the Dusky Caps, but is commonly smaller, and of a different colour, although there is a great similarity in flavour when cooked. The tone of colour is never a decided blue,

40 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS.

but almost amethystine. Dead leaves which have drifted into a ditch, or have accumu- lated in heaps to rot, in the corners of large gardens and recreation grounds, are favourite localities for these two species. We have always preferred specimens before they are quite fully grown, or the lilac colour changes to vinous red, for the table, and then they are mild and luscious, especially when grilled and served on toast. It must be remembered that as fruits differ from each other in flavour, according to the species or varieties, so also do the edible fungi, and that the flavour of one species is not found in another, so that no single species can be set up as a standard for comparison. Fruits that are not peaches, or apricots, may be very good plums.

EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 41

FAIRY RING CHAMPIGNON.

Marasmius oreades.

(Plate III. Fig. 2.)

This species is extensively known, grow- ing in clusters, and forming rings, or parts of rings, on lawns, and in old pastures, sometimes by the roadsides, but not in woods. It is rather an early species, being found in summer, and becoming rare in September. Its whole substance is dry and elastic, but not fragile ; a dozen may be carried in the pocket without breaking, and it dries so readily that it may be kept for winter use. Its usual size is about one inch in diameter of the cap, but sometimes double that size. The pileus is convex, with a little depression round the centre, and of a pale tan-colour when moist, or warm ochre when dry. The stem is slender, equal, solid, and white, very faintly woolly, but naked at the base. The gills are broad, rather distant apart, with shorter ones between, and nearly

42 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS.

white, or with a faint tinge of pale primrose, the spores being white. There is a peculiar fragrance, not distinctly sweet-scented, but rather " mushroomy," and the flavour is mild. The dry substance of the entire fungus is an indication that care must be employed in cooking to prevent its becom- ing tough. Some persons are more enthusi- astic than ourselves in adulation of this esculent, and have declared it to be " the verv best of all our fun on." It is most useful for flavouring:, will furnish an excellent white sauce akin to ketchup, is invariably safe, but is better for immediate use when collected in moist weather, and then, broiled in butter, it is highly com- mended. With common-sense and moderate care it is hardly possible to confound it with any other species.

EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 43

BLEWITS.

Agaricus (Tricholoma) personatus.

(Plate III. Fig. 3.)

In external form and size, the Blewits resembles the Common Mushroom, but with these important differences, that the gills are whitish, and the spores are white ; the stem has no collar, or ring, and is tinged with lilac. It more nearly resembles the St. George's Mushroom, only that it is autumnal ; commonly it is about three inches across, and is to be found on downs and short pastures. The flesh is thick and firm, with a mushroomy odour. The top of the pileus is generally greyish, and quite smooth, and it absorbs water very readily, so as to become sodden in wet weather, and then of but little account. It has been stated that it was formerly sold in Co vent Garden Market, but that has not been the case during the past forty years ; neverthe- less it is commonly sold, under the name of

44 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS.

Blewits, in Nottingham Market at the present day, and is recognized and eaten by the inhabitants. It is not every one who will approve of this species, as it has a rather peculiar flavour, but when collected in dry weather it will be the fault of the cook if it does not furnish an appetizing meal. We are not at all sure that the complaint which has been urged against it may not be true that it is heavy, and not so easy of digestion as some other species. It is easy of recognition, and the Notting- ham people will bear testimony to its good character.

Since the above was written we have had ocular demonstration that it is possible for this species to be found in April, but the specimens were small.

PL. 3.

EDIBLE MUSHRCCMS,

EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 45

DUSKY CAPS.

Agaricus (Clitocybe) nebular is.

(Plate IV. Fig. 1.)

The Dusky Caps are not uncommon late in autumn, mostly growing on dead leaves on the borders of woods, or on rubbish heaps in the corners of large gardens. The cap is of a cloudy grey colour, and from three to six inches in diameter, soon be- coming nearly flat, and often with a frosted surface, as if dusted with flour. The gills run for a considerable distance down the stem, which latter is a little thickened at the base, and wholly deficient of a ring. The gills and spores are white. When cut in section the white flesh