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Among the Mushrooms A Guide For Beginners online

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+POLYPORUS PICIPES = pitch and foot.+
+The Black-stemmed Polyporus.+

+Cap+ pallid color, then turning chestnut, often a pale yellowish livid
color, with the disc chestnut, fleshy, leathery, rigid, tough, even,
smooth, depressed at disc or behind. Flesh white. +Stem+ eccentric and
lateral, equal, firm, at first velvety, then naked, and dotted black up
to the pores. +Pores+ decurrent, round, very small, rather slender,
white, then slightly pale and yellowish. This fungus grows on the trunks
of trees, and is found as late as the middle of winter.

+The Sulphury Polyporus.+

This mushroom gains its name from the color of its pores, which are of a
bright sulphur color. It grows in tufted layers (cæspitose), sometimes 1
to 2 feet long, and it cannot be mistaken. +Cap+ may measure 8 inches in
breadth, and is of a reddish-yellow color, overlapping like the shingles
of a roof (imbricated). It is wavy and rather smooth. Flesh light
yellowish, then white, splitting open. +Pores+ are minute, even, sulphur
yellow. They retain their color much better than the pileus. The plants
are generally without a stem, but there may be a short stem, which is
lateral. They grow in clusters, all fastened together and one above the
other, and of all sizes. We saw this fungus first in a dense woods,
where its bright color at once attracted our notice. It was growing in a
large cluster, closely packed one over the other. It is said to be good
for food when young and tender.

+The Shining Polyporus.+

One can never mistake this fungus. Its surface looks as if covered with
varnish, rather wrinkled, a bright dark-red color, and its shape is
varied and singular. We have seen it sometimes shaped like a fan, and
like a lady’s high comb, or in some fantastic form. Stevenson says it is
a light yellow color and then becomes blood red chestnut. It is first
corky, then woody. +Stem+ lateral, equal, varnished, shining, of the
same color as cap. +Pores+ are long, very small, white and then cinnamon
color. It grows on and about stumps during the summer. +Cap+ is from 2
to 6 inches broad, and the stem 6 to 10 inches long, and 1 or more

+The Changeable Polyporus.+

This species is also common. It is found on dead wood, in all forms and
colors. +Cap+ variegated with different-colored zones; leathery, thin,
rigid, depressed behind, becoming velvety. +Pores+ minute, round, acute
and torn, white, turning pale or yellow.

+The Elegant Polyporus.+

+Cap+ 2 to 4 inches broad, of one color, pallid, ochraceous or orange,
shining, equally fleshy, and then hardened, becoming woody, flattened,
even, smooth. Flesh white. +Stem+ eccentric or lateral, even, smooth,
pallid at first, abruptly black and rooting at the base. +Pores+ plane,
minute, somewhat round, yellowish-white, pallid. The cap differs in
shape from others that have been described; it is not funnel-shaped nor
streaked, and is scarcely depressed, and the flesh is thick to the
margin. It grows on trunks of trees from July to November.


We now come to another order, Clavariei, of which the first genus is
Clavaria, from a word meaning a club. They are fleshy fungi, not
coriaceous. They have no distinct stem and generally grow on the ground.
We will mention a few of those we often see. They somewhat resemble
coral in growth but not in color.

+CLAVARIA STRICTA = to draw tight.+
+The Constricted Clavaria.+

This Clavaria grows on trunks of trees. It is of a pale yellowish color,
becoming a dusky brown (fuscous) when bruised. The base is about 3 lines
long, thick and much branched. The branches and branchlets are tense and
straight, crowded, adpressed and acute. Stevenson says that this species
is uncommon in Great Britain.

+CLAVARIA FLAVA = yellow.+
+The Pale Yellow Clavaria.+

Stevenson does not mention this species, so it may be peculiar to this
country. +Stem+ is short and stout, thick, and abruptly dissolves into a
dense mass of erect branches nearly parallel. The tips are yellow but
fade when old. It branches below and the stems are whitish. Flesh white.
It is recommended as well flavored and edible.

+The Large Club Clavaria.+

This species belongs to the largest of the unbranched kind. It is
generally 3 to 5 inches high, and ½ to ⅔ of an inch thick at top.
Light yellow color, then reddish, and dingy brown in decay. It is smooth
and the flesh soft and white. It is rounded at the top and club-shaped.
It tapers downward toward the base. Stevenson gives the height from 6 to
12 inches, but Professor Peck says he has not seen it as large in this
country. It is found in open grassy places. It was late in the autumn
when we discovered it. (Edible.)

+The Unequal Clavaria.+

This fungus is yellow and fragile. The clubs are alike in color, simple
or forked, and variable. It is common in woods and pastures. We found it
in September in the woods, rather wrinkled in appearance. It is not
classed among the edible species.

+TYPHULA = reed mace.+

One may sometimes see among the dead leaves in the woods, minute slender
bodies with thread-like stems, springing up from the ground, 2 to 3
inches high, of a white color and cylindrical in shape. They look like
slender stems from which the blossoms have been plucked. They are called
Typhula. They grow on dead leaves, on mosses, or on dead herbaceous
stems. The name is taken from the Cat Tail family, the Typhaceae, which
they somewhat resemble in miniature.

+SCHIZOPHYLLUM COMMUNE = to split, a leaf and common.+
+The Common Schizophyllum.+

There is but one species given by Stevenson of this genus, and, as the
name demonstrates, it is common, at least in this country. In Great
Britain it is rare. It grows on dead wood and logs. It has zones, either
of gray or white color, and it is turned up at the edge (revolute).
There is no flesh, and the pileus is dry. The gills are branched
fan-wise. It is not a typical Agaric, but is more like some Polyporei.
The gills are split longitudinally at the edge, and the two lips
commonly turn backward (revolute).

+The Jew’s Ear.+

There is one species belonging to the order Tremellodon that is quite
common. It is called the Jew’s ear. It is a very peculiar-looking
fungus, shaped somewhat like the human ear, of all sizes, and grows in
great quantities in the same place. It looks as if it were composed of a
thick jelly, and becomes soft and tremulous when damp. Its color is
dark, sometimes almost black. It is tough and cup-shaped, with ridges
across it like an ear. The generic name, Hirneola, means a jug, and the
specific name, Auricula Judae, a Jew’s ear.


+SCLERODERMA VULGARE = hard, skin, common.+
+The Common Hard-skinned Mushroom.+

This species closely resembles the common potato in shape and color. It
generally measures 2 to 3 inches across, and is of a pale brown color.
It grows close on the earth, is folded toward the base, and firm in
texture. The cuticle is covered with warts or scales.

+CRUCIBULUM VULGARE = crucible, common.+
+The Common Crucible.+

This little fungus is about ¼ of an inch across. It resembles a tiny
bird’s-nest with eggs in it. At first it looks like a cottony knot,
closely covered; its apex is closed by a membrane, then its covering is
thrown off, and the apparent tiny eggs are merely smaller envelopes,
called the peridiola. These are lentil-shaped and pale, and are fastened
to the inside of the covering by a long cord, which can be seen only
through a strong lens.

+The Varnished Cup.+

This differs from the crucible in color, form and habitat. It is about ½
an inch high. It is bell-shaped, becoming broadly open like a trumpet,
and of a slate or ash color. The mouth and lining shine as if varnished,
and hence its name. The plants grow on the ground, on wood and on

+LYCOPERDON CYATHIFORME = cup-shape.+ The Cup-shaped Puff-ball.+

This species of puff-ball is round with a contracted base. It is 4 to 10
inches across, a white or pinkish-brown color, afterward becoming a
darker brown and covered with small patches. When the spores mature the
upper part of the covering (peridium) becomes torn and only the lower
part remains. It looks like a dark-colored cup with a ragged margin, and
may be seen by the excursionist in the spring on the roadside. It has
survived the winter frosts and storms. It is split and shabby looking.
In August it is a whitish puff-ball, in the spring only a torn, brown

+The Pear-shaped Puff-ball.+

This species is shaped like a pear. It is from 1 to 4 inches high and is
covered with persistent warts so small as to look like scales to the
naked eye. It is of a dingy white or brownish-yellow. Its shape
separates it from the puff-balls, especially from the warted puff-ball,
L. gemmatum, which is nearly round with a base like a stem, an ashy-gray
color, and the surface is also warty, but unequally so, and as the warts
fall off they leave the puff-ball dotted. The pear-shaped puff-ball has
little fibrous rootlets, and the plants grow in crowds on decaying

+GEASTER HYGROMETRICUS = moisture, measure.+
+The Wandering Earth Star.+

This earth star is from 2 to 3½ inches wide. It is sessile, of a
brownish color, and changes its form accordingly as the weather is moist
or dry, hence the name. It is contracted and round in dry weather, and
star-like in damp atmosphere, with its lobes stretched out on the earth.
The covering consists of three layers, the two outermost split from the
top into several acute divisions, which spread out like the points of a
star. The innermost layer is round and attached by the base. There are
one or more openings at the top for the escape of the spores.

+PHALLUS IMPUDICUS = disgusting.+
+The Fetid Wood Witch.+

In the first stages the plant is white, soft and heavy, in shape and
size like a hen’s egg. It is covered by three layers, the outer one
firm, the middle one gelatinous, the third and inner one consists of a
thin membrane. This phallus develops under the ground until its spores
are mature. At length the apex is ruptured by the growth of the spore
receptacle, and the stem expands and elongates, escaping through the
top, and elevates the cap into the air. The stem at the early stage is
composed of cells filled with a gluten. The stem afterward becomes open
and spongy, owing to the drying of the gelatinous matter. The spores are
immersed in a strong-smelling, olive-green gluten. They are on the
outside of the cap and embedded in its ridges. A part of the volva
remains as a sheath at the base of the stem. This plant develops so
rapidly as to attain in a few hours the height of seven inches, the stem
is of lace-like structure, pure white, and its appearance suggests the
silicious sponge so ornamental in collections, commonly known as Venus’
basket. The drooping cap is also lacey with a network, and the spores
drip mucus and then dry up, in the meantime spreading around a
carrion-like, fetid smell. The Phallus, therefore, differs greatly in
appearance from the other genera of the order when it is seen above
ground, but if one is successful in finding it at an early stage, under
the surface of the earth, he will realize its relationship to the
general group, and find it an interesting subject of study.


+The Golden Peziza.+

This species is 2 to 3 inches in diameter, its disc is bright orange
color, while its exterior is pale and downy, owing to the presence of
short, stout hairs. It is sessile or nearly so, and grows in tufts on
the ground near stumps of trees. At first the disc is thin and brittle,
with a raised margin, much waved, becoming incised, and finally spreads
flat on the ground.

+The Edible or Common Morel.+

This is 2 to 4 inches high, stem about ½ inch in diameter. The cap is of
a dull yellow color, olivaceous, darkening with age to a brownish tinge.
It is oval-shaped, with dark hollows.

+HELVELLA INFULA = name of a woollen head-dress.+
+The Cap-like Helvella.+

This species is named Infula, because it is supposed to resemble in
shape the sacred woollen head-dress worn by priests of Rome, by
supplicants and victims, tied around the head by a ribbon or bandage,
which hangs down on both sides. The stem is surmounted with a lobed cap,
with two to four irregularly drooping lobes of reddish or cinnamon-brown
color, and is about 3 inches in diameter. The stem is 2 or 3 inches
high, usually smooth, but sometimes pitted. We found our specimen in the
woods in August.

[Illustration: Cortinarius distans.
Photographed by C. G. Lloyd.]


Let us suppose that the beginner finds a mushroom and wishes to name it.
He has learned its component parts. He has remarked the names of the
classes into which mushrooms are divided. How then shall he make use of
the Keys? We will imagine that he has found a Cantharellus. The cap is
yellow color, so let him turn to the list of fungi described under the
section “Yellow and Orange,” and see if it agrees in appearance with
anyone of these. (It is necessary before consulting a key to find the
color of the spores. This is done by cutting off the cap, and placing
it, gills downward, on paper, and leaving it there for two or three
hours. Having followed these directions in this case it will have been
seen that the spores are white.)

After consulting the list of “Yellow and Orange” he will find that the
first one mentioned is Cantharellus cibarius, the Chantarelle. The
description resembles that of the mushroom found in every particular.

Now let the beginner go further, and prove the correctness of the name
in another way. Turning to the section called “General Helps to the
Memory,” on page 68, and reading the names of the different genera under
the headings until he comes to the name Cantharellus, he will find it in
the table called “Mushrooms with gills running down the stems
(decurrent).” This distinction is apparent in the specimen found. Again,
let him turn to the list of white-spored Agarics, page 73, and he will
find the name of the genus Cantharellus there. Now, as an additional
test, let him turn to the key at the end of this work, the key to
Hymenomycetes. He must have learned enough by this time to know that his
mushroom belongs to this class, namely, the one that has spores produced
upon the lower part of the cap, and, also, that it is an Agaric, from
its having gills on the under side. Let him begin with Section A, “with
cap.” 1. Mushrooms with radiating gills beneath caps (Agarics). The key
then follows: 1. Plants fleshy, soon decaying. 2. Turn to number 2.
There are two descriptions, juice milky and juice watery; he will choose
the second one, which is followed by the number 3. Then follows, stem
central or nearly so; this agrees with the plant, and leads to 4. The
first line reads “white spores,” which is correct; then comes 5. There
are four lines with descriptions, the last one, “no ring and no volva,”
is right, which leads to 7. There are here two lines belonging to 7, the
second one, “gills in the form of folds, obtuse edge,” is correct, and
points to 10. This reads, “Gills decurrent, plant terrestrial,
Cantharellus.” The Key gives the name of the _genus_ only. In the list
of descriptions an attempt is made to mention some of the commonest
species. These directions apply to all the keys alike.


Key to Hymenomycetes, Membrane Fungi.

Hymenomycetes or membrane fungi are divided into two sections:

Section A, with cap.
Section B, without cap.

Section A is divided into four classes:

I. Mushrooms with radiating gills beneath caps, gill-bearing
mushrooms (Agarics).

II. With pores or tubes beneath caps (Polyporei).

III. With spines or teeth beneath the cap or branches (Hydnei).

IV. Where the spore-bearing surface beneath the cap is even, smooth,
or slightly wrinkled (Thelephorei).

Section B is divided into two classes:

I. Plants club-shaped and simple, or bush-like and branched

II. Plants gelatinous and irregular (Tremellinei).


Class I. Key to Gill-bearing Mushrooms (_Agarics_).

1. Plants fleshy, soon decaying, 2.
Plants leathery, woody, persistent, 12.

2. Juice milky, white, or colored, Lactarius.
Juice watery, 3.

3. Stem central, or nearly so, 4.
Stem lateral, eccentric or wanting, 11.

4. Spores white, 5.
Spores rosy, pink or salmon color, 15.
Spores yellowish-brown, ochre color, 17.
Spores dark brown, 21.
Spores black, 24.

5. With volva and ring, Amanita.
Volva and no ring, Amanita
(sub-genus Amanitopsis).
Ring and no volva, 6.
No ring and no volva, 7.

6. Gills free, ring movable, pileus scaly, Lepiota.
Gills adnate, pileus generally smooth, Armillaria.

7. Gills thin, edge acute, 8.
Gills in the form of folds, obtuse edge, 10.

8. Gills decurrent or stem fleshy. Clitocybe.
Gills sinuate, notched behind, stem fleshy, Tricholoma.
Gills adnate, not decurrent, stem cartilaginous, Collybia.
Stem fleshy, cap often bright color, 9.

9. Plants rigid, gills even, cap bright, Russula.
Plants with waxy gills, Hygrophorus.

10. Gills decurrent, plant terrestrial, Cantharellus.

11. Spores white, Pleurotus.
Spores yellowish or brown, Crepidotus.

12. Gills serrated on their edges, stem central or
lateral, Lentinus.
Gills entire, stem central, 13.
Stem lateral or wanting, 14.

13. Gills simple, pileus dry, soon withering, then
reviving when moist, Marasmius.

14. Gills deeply splitting, with weak hairs, Schizophyllum.
Gills united by veins, plant corky, Lenzites.

15. Volva, no ring, Volvaria.
No volva, ring present, Annularia.
No volva, no ring, 16.

16. Gills free, rounded behind, cohering at first, Pluteus.
Gills adnate or sinuate, stem fleshy, soft, waxy,
cap fleshy, margin incurved, Entoloma.
Gills decurrent, stem fleshy, Clitopilis.

17. Ring continuous, pileus with scales, Pholiota.
Ring cobwebby or evanescent, not apparent in old
specimens, 18.
Ring wanting, 19.
Stem with cartilaginous rind, 21.

18. Gills adnate, plants on the ground, Cortinarius.

19. Gills decurrent, stem fleshy, gills easily
separating, Paxillus.
Gills not decurrent, stem fleshy, 20.

20. Pileus fibrillose, or silky, Inocybe.
Pileus smooth and sticky, Hebeloma.

21. Veil remaining attached to margin of pileus,
often not seen in old specimens, Hypholoma.
Veil on stem as a ring, 22.
Margin of cap incurved when young, Naucoria.

22. Gills separate on the stem, Agaricus or Psalliota.
Gills united with stem, Stropharia.
Gills adnate or sinuate, 23.

23. Margin of pileus incurved when young, Psilocybe.
Margin of pileus always straight, Psathyra.

24. Pileus of normal form, 25.

25. Pileus fleshy, membranaceous or deliquescent, 26.

26. Gills deliquescent - inky fluid, Coprinus.
Gills not deliquescent - ring present, Annellaria.
Gills not decurrent - ring wanting, 27.

27. Pileus striate - plants small, Psathyrella.
Pileus not striate, stem fleshy, margin
exceeding the gills, Panaeolus.

Class II. Key to Pore-bearing Fungi (_Polyporei_).

1. Pores readily separating from cap, spores
whitish or brownish, Boletus.

2. Stems strictly lateral, pores in the form
of tubes, mouths are separate from
each other (growing on wood), Fistulina.

3. Tubes not separable from each other,
round, angular, or torn, fleshy,
leathery or woody, Polyporus.

(Key to species of Boleti may be found in Professor Peck’s work on

Class III. Key to Spine-bearing Fungi (_Hydnei_).

1. Spines awl-shaped, distinct at base, Hydnum.
Spines awl-shaped, equal; plant gelatinous,
tremulous, Tremellodon.

Class IV. Key to Smooth Surface Fungi (_Thelephorei_).

1. Spores white, on ground, fleshy, tubiform,
cap blackish, scaly, stem hollow, Craterellus

2. Coriaceous or woody, somewhat zoned,
entire, definite in form, Stereum.


Class I. Key to Clavariei.

1. Fleshy, branched or simple, without distinct stem,
growing on the ground, Clavaria.

2. Growing on trunks, yellowish, becoming dark, much
branched, tense and straight, C. stricta.

3. Yellow, stuffed, clubs simple or forked, of the
same color, C. inequalis.

4. Color changeable, becoming dark, light yellow,
then reddish, simple, fleshy, stuffed, obovate,
clavate, obtuse, C. pistillaris.


Key to Gasteromycetes and Ascomycetes.

Section A. Fungi that have the spores inside the cap. (Stomach fungi or

Section B. Fungi that have the spores in delicate sacs. (Spore sac fungi
or Ascomycetes.)


1. Fungi covered with a hard rind, Scleroderma.

2. In which the spores when ripe turn to dust, 4.
Where spores are at first closed in a cup-like sac
that resembles a bird’s-nest, 3.

3. Fungi with the outside covering bowl-shaped Crucibulum,
of one cottony layer, the Crucible.
Outside covering tubular, trumpet-shaped, Cyathus,
of 3 layers, the cup.
Outside covering opening with a torn mouth, Nidularia,

4. Outer covering splitting into star-like points, Geaster,
earth star.
Outer covering opening by a single mouth Lycoperdon,
at the top, puff-ball.
Spores at first borne in an egg-like sac, Phallus,
when ripe elevated on a cap at the top of stink-horn
the stem, no veil, has an odious smell, fungus.


1. Where the sacs soon become free, no special Peziza,
covering, mostly fleshy, cup-like fungi, cup fungus.
Sacs opening from the first, caps pitted
or furrowed, 2.

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