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BRITISH FUNGI






.^!^



UNIFORM WITH THIS WORK

Each 7/6 net ; half-morocco, gilt, 10 6 net



British Birds in their Haunts. By Rev. C. A. Johns, F.L.S.
Edited by J. A. OwEN. 64 Coloured Plates (256 Figs.) by William

Foster.

British Butterflies and Moths. By Dr. W. E. Kirby.

70 Coloured Plates, containing figures of all the larger Lepidoptera,
many Caterpillars and Chrysalides, and 4 Plates of Microlepidoptera.

British Ferns and their Varieties. By C. T. Druery, F.L.S.

40 Coloured Plates, numerous text-cuts, and a gallery of 96 plates
of varieties.

Flowers of the Field. Edited by Clarence Elliott.

92 Coloured Plates (268 Figs.) by E. N. Gwatkin.

New Illustrated Natural History of the World. An entirely
original work by Ernest Protheroe, F.Z.S. 24 Coloured Plates
and nearly 300 photograjihic text illustrations from Nature chiefly by
W. S. Berridge, F.Z.S.

British Trees and Shrubs. Edited by E. T. Cook.

Coloured Plates and text-cuts.

Alpine Plants of Europe. By Harold Stuart Thompson,
F.L.S. 64 Coloured Plates (311 Figs.).

Bound the Year with Nature. By William J. Claxton.

With 200 illustrations and 24 Coloured Plates by Maude Umphre-
viLLE Clark.



GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS, LTD.



BRITISH FUNGI



WITH A CHAPTER ON LICHENS



(;eorgk massee



ASSISTANT KEEI'EK, HEI-



)TANIC GAKDENS, KEV



WITH FORTY COLOURED PLATES BV IVY MASSEE




LONDON
GEORG]': ROUTLKDCil-: AXl) SONS, LIMITED

NEW YORK : E. 1'. DUTTON AND CO.



PREFACE

The primary object of this book is to enable the reader to

determine the names of our indigenous mushrooms, toadstools,

etc. At the same time, if a desire to know more than a mere

string of names has not been aroused, then I have failed in my

object. Many thanks to m}- colleague, Air. A. D, Cotton, for

much valuable assistance.

GEO. MASSE E.



{fo




^



17091



CONTENTS



PART I

CHAP.

I. General Introduction

II. Some Terms used in describing Fungi

III. The Classification of Fungi

IV. How TO Study Fungi .

V. When and Where to Collect Fungi

VI. Collecting and Preserving Fungi .

VII. Ecology of Fungi

VIII. Edible and Poisonous Fungi

IX. Diseases Caused by Fungi

X.. Luminosity of Fungi .

XI. Fossil Fungi ....



PAGE

I

14
24

33

35
39
46

49
53
64
65



PART II

Systematic Arrangement of Fungi .
Lichens .....
Index .....



66
516
527



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS



Cap of the Stinkhorn .....


PAGE

9


POLYPORUS HISPIDUS ......


12


Pl.\te a . . . . ...


17


Pl.ate B .


21


COPRINUS COMATUS .....


36


PSATHYRELLA DISSEMINATA .....


38


Dl.AGRAM OF A PACKET FOR DRIED SPECIMEN


44


Boletus scaber ....


50


"Smutted" Oats ......


54


"Smutted" Wheat ......


55


Leaves of Plum Tree .....


56


"Witches'-broom" ......


58


Pear Scab .......


59


Base of Larch Seedling .....


61


Cordyceps .......


63


Lecidea subumbonata .....


517


Sticta pulmonaria ......


518


CLADOmA rangiferina . .


519


Cladonia pyx J data ......


521


Cladonia gracilis ......


522


Lecanora tartar ea ......


525



LIST OF COLOURED PLATES



late I.


FACE PAGE

Frontispiece P


ate XXI.






KAC


E I'AGE

256


II.


. . . 84 .


XXII.








294


, III.








86 ( ,


XXIII.








300


IV.








90


XXIV.








322


V.








94 ,


XXV.








343


VI.








98 ,


XXVI.








352


„ VII.








102 ,


XXVII.


'






358


,, VIII.








no


, XXVIIl.








368


IX.








118


XXIX.








372


X.








124


XXX.








378


XI.








126


XXXI.








382


„ XII.








138 i ,


XXXII.








408


,, XIII.








142


, XXXIII.








414


,, XIV.








15^ ,


, XXXIV.








436


XV.








166


XXXV.








464


„ XVI.








178 ,


, XXXVI.








478


„ XVII.








208 ,


, XXXVII.








494


, XVIII.








216


, XXXVIII.








510


„ XIX.








228


, XXXIX.








520


„ XX.








232 1 ,


XL.








524



BRITISH FUNGI



PART I

CHAPTER I

GENERAL INTRODUCTION

In a book dealing with fungi, naturally the first question to be
asked by an intelligent student is : What is a fungus ? This sug-
gests other questions : Is a fungus a plant, and, if so, why so ?
Now it must be admitted that these may prove to be very difficult
questions to answer. Much depends, in fact all depends, on the
relative amount of knowledge possessed b}' the inquirer. If a
general elementary knowledge of the main differences between
plants and animals has already been attained, the answer is fairly
easy to grasp ; if no knowledge on these points is possessed, no
answer to the queries can be given that can convey any clear
meaning. Assuming it is understood, as a general rule, that animals
require organic foocl, that is, food which is the direct result of some
living organism, as when a cat eats a mouse, a cow eats a cabbage,
or when we eat bread ; and that green plants are practically inde-
pendent of food that is the direct product of life, but obtain what
they require from the atmosphere, and from substances dissolved
in water absorbed by the root. If so much is known, it will probably
also be known that the green colouring matter called chlorophyll,
present in the great majority of plants, is the substance that
enables plants, under the influence of light, to convert the inorganic
substances obtained from the air and the soil into plant flesh. Now
fungi differ from the great majority of plants in having no chloro-
phyll, hence they cannot utilize inorganic materials obtained from
the air, and from the soil, as food, but require organic food ; some
grow as parasites on living plants, others obtain their food from
dead plants, wood, etc., or from humus or manure, all these being
the direct result of life. In so far fungi agree with animals. On
the other hand, fungi do not at all agree with animals in structure,
or in their mode of reproduction, etc., but, on the other hand,
fungi do agree in structure with plants having chlorophyll ; hence



nomrr uBRARr
H, C. State Co«e««



2 BRITISH FUNGI

fungi arc true }:)lauts, but owint;- to the absence of cliloropliyll,
require organic food. Fungi are not unique in tlie \'egetable King-
dom in this matter. ]\Iany plants belonging to different natural
orders, that once had chlorophyll, have for some reason become
devoid of chloroph}'ll, and consequently have to obtain organic
food eitlier as parasites, as the broom-rapes, or as saprophytes, as
the birds'-nest orchid.

The fungi as a group are considered as ha^•ing evoh-ed from the
algs, or seaweeds ; hence, as would be expected, the oldest and most
primitive types of fungi are aquatic in habitat, and in many in-
stances closely resemble certain alga; in structure, differing mainly
from alg?e in the absence of chlorophyll, so at this stage of evolution
it may be said that fungi are alg?e devoid of chlorophyll. This, of
course, implies a change of food, as, owing to the absence of chloro-
phyll, our fungi cannot utilize inorganic food. Another point of
importance to remember is the fact that, in the primitive fungi,
the reproductive bodies or spores possess the power of spontaneous
movement, that is, they can, by the aid of one or more slender
prolongations of the substance of the spore, called cilia, swim about
for some time in the water into which they are liberated. Such
reproductive bodies are called zoospores. This power of spon-
taneous movement enables the zoospores to reach places suitable
for germination and the production of a new fungus. Up to the
present phase of evolution it is only possible to consider the fungi
as other than modified algas, in the sense that a mistletoe or a
broom-rape is off the normal track of a typical ffowering plant. It
was when the fungi commenced to leave their original aquatic
habitat and encroach on dry land, that the first really important
modifications of structure were initiated. So long as fungi re-
mained aquatic organisms, zoospores were the ideal type of repro-
ducti\'e bodies, but in endeavouring to extend their range on dry
land, they were very much handicapped by only possessing zoo-
spores, winch necessitated the presence of water for their dispersion.
It may be mentioned at this point, that in the ancient aquatic fungi
the reproductive bodies or zoospores were in most instances the
result of fertilization, or due to a sexual process. Once established
on dry land, a new form of reproducti^'e bodies was graduall}^
evolved, of an entirely asexual origin, called conidia. These conidia,
or asexual reproductive bodies, are in most instances exceedingly
minute, dry, and so constructed that their dispersion could be
effected by wind, insects, and -other aerial agents. Now it was just
the evolution of the conidial form of reproduction, capable of being
scattered by wind, that enabled the fungi to gradually take
possession of every portion of dry land inhabited by higher plants,
from which they could obtain the required food. From the above
account it will have been gathered that the fungi, at the time of
their evolution from the algae, and on their first endeavours to gain



GENERAL INTRODUCTION 3

a foothold on dry land, possessed two distinct types of reproductive
organs, the primitive type of sexually produced ones, and the
modern or conidial form, evolved soon after tlieir adoption of an
aerial home. So successful has this modern conidial form of repro-
duction proved to be, that in the great majority of instances the
older sexual mode of reproduction has been abandoned. In the
thousands of gill-bearing fungi or toadstools, also the woody bracket-
fungi ; in other words, in the extensive group of fungi technically
known as the Basidiomycetes, there is not a vestige of the ancient
sexual form of reproduction left, and all tliese fungi are reproduced
by the newer conidial method. It may be stated that the Basidio-
mycetes is the most modern group of fungi, that is, it is the last
to evolve from the series of families that have come into being, or
gradually evolved one from another, since the fungi became terres-
trial in their habits. For this reason the Basidiomycetes may
also be looked upon as representing the most marked type of true
fungi, and have shaken off all the indications of their origin from
the algae ; in fact, if the Basidiomycetes amongst the fungi alone
existed at the present day, it coulcl not have been suggested that
they had evolved from the algae ; other groups of fungi, from which
the Basidiomycetes originated, how^ever, clearly indicate such origin.
Where two or more distinct forms of reproductive bodies are
present, which is general in all groups except the Basidiomycetes,
as previously defined, each form of reproduction has its own special
function sharply defined. The function of the conidial stage, which
may be looked upon as a supplementary one, evolved to meet new
conditions when the fungi adopted dry land as their habitat, is
for the purpose of extending the geographical area of the species,
whereas the ancient sexually produced fruit is produced for
the purpose of continuing the species in time, or from one
season to another. This comes about as follows. Probably the
white mildew, so common on the leaves and stems of roses, both
wild and cultivated, is familiar to all, or at all events may soon
become so, on account of its great frequency, by anyone sufficiently
interested in the subject. Now if a mildewed rose leaf is examined
with a pocket-lens, the white mildew will appear to resemble a thin
coating of wheat flour dusted on the leaf. If a minute portion of
this meal, placed in a drop of water, is examined under a microscope
magnifying about three hundred times, the apparent powder will
be seen to consist of colourless, oblong bodies, or conidia, or summer-
spores, as they are often called. These conidia are capable of
germination the moment they are mature, and being readily
dispersed by wind, insects, birds, etc., some are certain to alight on
the leaves of other rose trees, which become infected and quickly
produce a crop of conidia which are dispersed in turn, and infect
other plants. The production of this conidial form of reproduction
continues throughout the growing season, and as myriads of



4 BRITISH FUNGI

these conidia, each capable of infecting a plant, are produced
daih' throughout the season, it can be readil}^ understood how
quickly a disease can spread, not onh- from one plant to another
in the same garden, but from garden to garden, and even from
one country to another. Conidia are very short-lived, usually
only retaining the power of germination for a few days, after which
they perish. Now if I have succeeded in making myself under-
stood so far, myj previous statement that the use of conidia or
summer-spores is solely to enable the fungus to extend its area of
distribution will be clear. All epidemics of fungi, that is, those
exceptionally abundant outbreaks of fungus growth which so
frequently prove destructive to cultivated crops, are invariably due
to tlie rapid development and extension of the conidial stage of the
fungus.

To return to our mildewed rose bush. If the white mildew patches
on the shoots are examined during the autumn, minute blackish
dots, smaller than the head of a small pin, may be seen on the white
cottony patches of mildew. These small black balls are the ancient,
sexual, or winter form of fruit. Their structure is complicated, and
cannot be understood without microscopic examination. For the
present it must suffice to state that each little ball or fruit contains
se\-eral spores in its interior. These spores, unlike conidia, will not
germinate at once, but require a period of rest before the}- will do so,
in fact, they will not germinate until the spring following their
production. When spring arrives the little balls decay, liberate
their contained spores, which are carried about by wind, etc. ;
those that happen to alight on young rose leaves set up an infection,
which results in the production of a patcli of mildew, and the cycle
of development, first conidia, then winter-spores, is repeated.

The above account briefly indicates the general outlines of the
division of labour, in so far as the methods of extending the area of
distribution and the continuation in time is concerned, of many
thousands of different kinds of fungi.

At this stage it may be well to attempt to define the meaning of
the terms conidium ( = singular of conidia) , and spore. A conidium
is a reproductive body, equivalent in value to the seed of a flowering
plant, as a pea or an acorn, but it is asexual in origin, that is, it is
not the result of an act of fertihzation. A spore is the result of an
act of fertilization, the sexual organs being equivalent in function
to the stamens and pistil in flowering plants. In the great majority
of fungi the actual act of fertilization is arrested or obsolete now,
but the general structure of the fruit-body is the same as when
fertilization occurred, and the bodies produced in such structures
are still called spores. Unfortunately this distinction between
conidia and spore is not consistently followed ; the reproductive
bodies of the gill-bearing fungi, and of the Basidiomycetes col-
lectively, are by common consent called spores, although they are



GENERAL INTRODUCTION 5

technically conidia as defined above. \\'itliin tlie seed of a llowering
plant there is an embryo, or miniature plantlet ; such embryo is
entirely absent from both conidium and spore, hence they are not
botanically seeds, although functionally both are exactly equal in
value to a seed, in the sense that each is capable, under fa\'ourabIe
circumstances, of germination and giving origin to a fungus.

Soon after the fungi emerged from their primitive aquatic home,
and took possession of diy land, they quickly shook off the algal
characteristics of their ancestors, and clearly indicated the evolution
of a new group of organisms, collectively known as fungi, dis-
tinguished from all other large groups constituting the Vegetable
Kingdom by their structure and mode of life. Such was tlieir
energy and adaptability, that it is important to bear in mind that,
numerically, fungi at the present day rank next to flowering
plants, and in many portions of the globe far exceed them. For
instance, in Great Britain we have just over five thousand species
of fungi, a number which exceeds that of our flowering plants,
ferns, mosses, hepatics, algae, and lichens all added together.
Probably the same ^\'ould be true of many other regions if the fungi
were as carefully collected and studied as are the higher forms of
plant life.

In addition to the peculiarity of possessing two or more forms
of reproductive bodies — some fungi have more than one form of
conidia — many fungi possess the remarkable property of living,
or spending one part of their life-cycle on one host-plant, and the
remaining portion on another distinct plant. This mode of life is
termed Jieteyoecism, and such fungi are said to be hetercecious,
or living on different substances during different periods of their
growth. This peculiarity is most marked in the fungi termed
" rusts," as corn rust, or mildew, as it is sometimes called.

The common corn rust, Puccinia graminis, illustrates this mode
of life, and although the fungus itself is not likely to be known by
the reader, yet the general principle may be grasped from an
explanation of the cycle of development of this fungus. We will
commence with the winter- fruit, which is produced on the fading
leaves and culms of wheat and some other grasses. These winter-
spores, as usual, require a period of rest before they can germinate,
in fact, such spores germinate in the spring following their pro-
duction. On germination the \\inter-spores give origin to yet
smaller spores, which are drifted about by wind, and those that
happen to alight on the young leaves of the barberry [Berheris
vulgaris) set up an infection which eventually results in the
development of the beautiful structures known as " cluster-cups,"
on account of the cup-like structures containing the spores. This is
the first stage of the fungus, produced in the spring, on barberry
leaves. The minute spores produced in the " cluster-cups " are
in turn dispersed by wind, and those that alight on the young



6 BRITISH FUNGI

leaves or leaf-sheath of wlieat or other grasses in due course give
origin to the conidial or summer stage of the fungus, which appears
under the form of short orange streaks on the leaves, etc. The
first-formed summer-spores, scattered by wind, etc., infect neigh-
bouring plants, and as tlie production of summer-spores continues
throughout the growing period of the host-plant, that is, the plant
upon which the fungus is parasitic, it can be readily understood
how quickly, under conditions favourable for the fungus, the
disease spreads and becomes epidemic, when the host-plants are
crowded together, as in a field of wheat. When the wheat is com-
mencing to ripen, summer-spores cease to be formed, and the same
mycelium that has produced them hitherto, now produces winter-
spores, or resting-spores, which remain firmly attached to the leaves
and straw until the following spring, when they germinate and
infect barberry leaves, and the cycle of development, as described
above, is repeated.

The above describes the fullest development of wheat rust, but
under certain conditions, one or other of these phases in the life-
cycle of the fungus may be dropped or omitted, without in any way
interfering with the appearance or development of the remaining
stages. For instance, wheat rust in some way accompanied its
host-plant into the Southern hemisphere, and at the present
day is much more injurious to the wheat crop in Australia tlian it is
in Europe. But it so happens that for some reason, climatic, or
the absence of a suitable host-plant, the aecidium, or " cluster-cup "
condition of the fungus was completely omitted, so that the uredo
or summer form, and the telentospore or winter form of fruit are
alone produced in Australia. Again, where the wheat rust lias been
introduced into sub-tropical or warm temperate regions, where the
host-plant is growing all the year round, the uredo or summer form
of fruit is often alone produced, as there is an unbroken continuity
of proper host-plants for favouring the continuous growth of the
summer form of fruit.

At this point the question that naturally suggests itself is,
why all these changes of mode of life in one kind of fungus ? At
present no one can offer a full explanation, yet much is known
bearing on this subject. A celebrated German scientist named
Klebs has proved, as the result of a long series of experiments, that
in the case of many fungi, a perpetually sterile condition, or a
constant production of the conidial form of fruit, or of the sexual
form of fruit, can be produced at will, the most important deter-
mining factors being the particular composition, and proportion
of the food supplied, along with certain physical conditions, as the
density of the medium in which the fungus is growing, etc. Now
we have alread}' learned that when a wheat plant is infected with
wheat rust, uredo or summer-spores continue to be produced in
rapid succession so long as the host-plant is still growing and



GENERAL INTRODUCTION 7

vigorous, but when it commences to ripen, tliat is, to die gradually,
the same mycelium that had previously produced summer-spores
now commences to produce winter-spores, whose general form
and function, or use, are totally different to those of summer-spores.
The transition is not abrupt wlien the plant first begins to ripen,
the clusters of spores often contain both summer and winter forms,
and as the ripening or dying of the wheat plant progresses, summer-
spores entirely disappear, and are replaced by \\inter-spores. This
change in the habit of the fungus we attribute to changes taking
place in the host-plant. During active growth the chemical com-
position and physical conditions, as to density of the tissues, etc.,
are fairly constant, and favour the development of summer-spores,
but when the ripening or dying stage is reached, the difference in
the chemical condition of the sap, also its quantity, and the greater
rigidity of the tissues, together prevent the further production of
summer-spores, but favour the production of winter-spores. The
general significance of this idea will be more e\ident as the student
progresses in the stud}' of fungi ; but from the first the fact cannot
be overlooked that the great majority of fungi that grow on a host
that changes as indicated above, produce two forms of fruit,
conidial and ascigerous or winter-fruit, whereas fungi that grow on
a comparatively unchangeable substance, as rotten wood, humus,
etc., show no change of form, and as a rule produce only one kind
of spore, as in toadstools, bracket fungi, in fact throughout the
thousands of species included in the Basidiomycetes. It is amongst
the rusts generally, and more especially the numerous members
of one particular genus, called Puccinia, that we meet with the
greatest variety in the number of different kinds of spores produced,
and also in growing on different hosts during different periods of
their development. Evidence points to the conclusion that all these
fungi, at one time or other, possessed the three forms of spore as
described under \\heat rust, and also that there was at one time
a sexually produced condition. The last has now entirely dis-
appeared, functionally, but vestiges remain. At the present day
in many species, for unknown reasons, various spore-forms have
dropped out, or are omitted in the cycle of development. In some
species only the resting-spore or \\inter-spore stage remains. The
well-known and destructive hollyhock rust {Puccinia malvacearum),
forming small, hard brown warts on the leaves and stem, illustrates
this condition of things. This fungus, along with alhes, appears to
have solved the problem of effecting their requirements with the



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