1 There are few more useful, more easily recognized, or more delicious members of the vegetable kingdom than the common mushroom, known botanically as Agaricus campestris (or Psalliota campestris).
Many edible fungi depend upon minute and often obscure botanical characters for their determination, and may readily be confounded with worthless or poisonous species; but that is not the case with the common mushroom, for, although several other species of Agaricus somewhat closely approach it in form and colour, yet the true mushroom, if sound and freshly gathered, may be distinguished from all other fungi with great ease.
Across the cap belong to Agaricus arvensis, called from its large size and coarse texture the horse mushroom, which grows in meadows and damp shady places, and though generally wholesome is coarse and sometimes indigestible.
The mushroom usually grown in gardens or hot-beds, in cellars, sheds, &c., is a distinct variety known as Agaricus hortensis.
On being cut or broken the flesh of a true mushroom remains white or nearly so, the flesh of the coarser horse mushroom changes to buff or sometimes to dark brown.
When all these characters are taken together no other mushroom-like fungus - and nearly a thousand species grow in Britain - can be confounded with it.
The cuticle of a mushroom readily peels away from the flesh beneath, as shown at F.
A point of great importance is to be noted in the attachment of the gills near the stem at 0, P; the gills in the true mushroom are (as shown) usually more or less free from the stem, they never grow boldly against it or run down it; they may sometimes just touch the spot where the stem joins the bottom of the cap, but never more; there is usually a slight channel, as at r, all round the top of the stem.
The spores on germination make a white felted mat, more or less dense, of mycelium; this, when compacted with dry, half-decomposed dung, is the mushroom spawn of gardeners.
Mushroom has numerous varieties, and it differs in different places and under different modes of culture in much the same way as our kitchen-garden plants differ from the type they have been derived from, and from each other.
- Pasture Mushroom (Agaricus campestris).
The well-known compact variety of mushroom-growers, with its white cap and dull purplish clay-coloured gills, is A.
The large rank horse mushroom, now generally referred to as A.
Arvensis, is probably a variety of the pasture mushroom; it grows in rings in woody places and under trees and hedges in meadows; it has a large scaly round cap, and the flesh quickly changes to buff or brown when cut or broken; the stem too is hollow.
A species, described by Berkeley and Broome as distinct from both the pasture mushroom and horse mushroom, has been published under the name of A.
This grows under oaks, in clusters - a most unusual character for the mushroom, and is said to be excellent for the table.
An allied fungus peculiar to woods, with a less fleshy cap than the true mushroom, with hollow stem, and strong odour, has been described as a close ally of the pasture mushroom under the name of A.
Many instances are on record where mushroom-beds have been invaded by a growth of strange fungi and the true mushrooms have been ousted to the advantage of the new-comers.
A very common spurious mushroom in markets is A.
Velutinus, a slender, ringless, hollow-stemmed, blackgilled fungus, common in gardens and about dung and stumps; it is about the size of a mushroom, but thinner in all its parts and far more brittle; it has a black hairy fringe hanging round the edge of the cap when fresh.
Another spurious mushroom, and equally common in dealers' baskets, is A.
Lacrymabundus; this grows in the same positions as the last, and is somewhat fleshier and more like a true mushroom; it has a hollow stem and a slight ring, the gills are black-brown mottled and generally studded with tear-like drops of moisture.
Besides these there are numerous other black-gilled species which find a place in baskets - some species far too small to bear any resemblance to a mushroom, others large and deliquescent, generally belonging to the stumpand dung-borne genus Coprinus.
The true mushroom itself is to a great extent a dung-borne species, therefore mushroom-beds are always liable to an invasion from other dung-borne forms. The spores of all fungi are constantly floating about in the air, and when the spores of dung-infesting species alight on a mushroom-bed they find a nidus already prepared that exactly suits them; and if the spawn of the new-comer becomes more profuse than that of the mushroom the stranger takes up his position at the expense of the mushroom.
Sometimes cases of poisoning follow the consumption of what have really appeared to gardeners to be true bed-mushrooms, and to country folks as small horse mushrooms. The case is made more complicated by the fact that these highly poisonous forms now and then appear upon mushroom-beds to the exclusion of the mushrooms. This dangerous counterfeit is A.
These two fungi usually grow in woods, but sometimes in hedges and in shady places in meadows, or even, as has been said, as invaders on mushroom-beds.
Sometimes a beautiful, somewhat slender, fungus peculiar to stumps in woods is mistaken for the mushroom in A.
Cervinus; it has a tall, solid, white, ringless stem and somewhat thin brown cap, furnished underneath with beautiful rose-coloured gills, which are free from the stem as in the mushroom, and which FIG.
- Poisonous Mushroom (Agaricus fastibilis).
In France mushroom-growers do not use the compact blocks or bricks of spawn so familiar in England, but much smaller flakes or "leaves" of dry dung in which the spawn or mycelium can be seen to exist.
Less manure is used in these cellars than we generally see in the mushroom-houses of England, and the surface of each bed is covered with about an inch of fine white stony soil.
The equable temperature of these cellars and their freedom from drought is one cause of their great success; to this must be added the natural virgin spawn, for by continually using spawn taken from mushroom-producing beds the potency for reproduction is weakened.
The common mushroom (Agaricus campestris) is propagated by spores, the fine black dust seen to be thrown off when a mature specimen is laid on white paper or a white dish; these give rise to what is known as the "spawn" or mycelium, which consists of whitish threads permeating dried dung or similar substances, and which, when planted in a proper medium, runs through the mass, and eventually develops the fructification known as the mushroom.
This spawn may be obtained from old pastures, or decayed mushroom beds, and is purchased from nurserymen in the form of bricks charged with the mycelium, and technically known as mushroom spawn.
To command a regular supply, however, at all seasons, the use of a mushroom-house will be found very convenient.
The beds made partly of old mushroom-bed dung often contain sufficient spawn to yield a crop, without the introduction of brick or cake spawn, but it is advisable to spawn them in the regular way.
It is totally different in appearance from the pasture mushroom, and, like it, its characters are so distinct that there is hardly a possibility of making a mistake when its peculiarities are once comprehended.
It has more than one advantage over the meadow mushroom in its extreme commonness, its profuse growth, the length of the season in which it may be gathered, the total absence of varietal forms, its adaptability for being dried and preserved for years, and its persistent delicious taste.
Like the mushroom, it grows in short open pastures and amongst the short grass of open roadsides; sometimes it appears on lawns, but it never occurs in woods or in damp shady places.
Is about one-half the size of a mushroom, and whitish-buff in every part, the gills always retaining this colour and never becoming salmon-coloured, brown or black.
The buffgills are far apart (v), and in this they greatly differ from the somewhat crowded gills of the mushroom; the junction of the gills with the stem (w) also differs in character from the similar junction in the mushroom.
The mushroom is a semi-deliquescent fungus which rapidly falls into putridity in decay, whilst the champignon dries up into a leathery substance in the sun, but speedily revives and takes its original form again after the first shower.
A fungus which may carelessly be mistaken for the mushroom is M.
AMADOU, a soft tough substance used as tinder, derived from Polyporus fomentarius, a fungus belonging to the group Basidiomycetes and somewhat resembling a mushroom in manner of growth.
A cable is carried out from the mainland at Crookhaven for 7 m., and the outer end earthed by connexion with a copper mushroom anchor.
During 1905 the town of Goldfield had a period of mushroom growth, then quieted, and finally revived to a healthy development.
The brain is well developed and its " mushroom-bodies " are exceptionally large.
The amanitas include some of the most showy representatives of the Agaricineae or mushroom order of fungi.
The most complete and symmetrical grass rings are formed by Marasmius oreades, the fairy ring champignon, but the mushroom and many other species occasionally form rings, both on grass-lands and in woods.
Fresh manure should be avoided, but the remains from an old hot-bed or mushroom bed may be incorporated.