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ON SOME OF THE LARGER AND RARER FUNGI
OBSERVED DURING 1865.
By W. G. SMITH, Esq.
As a rule, the larger fungi are so fugitive in their nature, so capricious in their appearance, and so changeable as to their localities, that it is always difficult to assign either time or place for their appearance. Certain species, for instance, that are considered peculiar to a special habitat may occasionally be found in abundance in quite a different locality, and certain situations such as fir plantations, may often be searched for in vain from year's end to year's end without one species peculiar to fir districts being seen. Again, other species, such as Agaricus (Pleurotus) ostreatus, usually found growing in the autumn or early winter, will appear in the greatest abundance in spring, and it certainly has been our experience more than once, whilst searching for fungi peculiar to the south, to find in plenty a batch supposed never to be seen out of the north, and what is not dissimilar, to find a northern species luxuriating in a hot greenhouse, whilst the same plant is dwarfed and abortive in the exposed air outside. The mycologist can never make sure of finding any particular species, for where a certain group has been found plentifully during one year a single specimen may be looked for in vain for many years afterwards; it has probably been the experience of every one who has studied the subject, to have found once a single specimen of a rare, or perhaps common species, and never to have found it again, and after devoting several years nearly exclusively to this subject, it has certainly been our lot never to have seen one or two common species that are said to be “extremely common” and “most abundant;" some of these common forms appear rarely or never near London, whilst some of the rarer may be found before the smoke of London has been left behind. With some species it is difficult to say which are rare and which common, for the plant that is rare here may be common there, and the rarity of one season may be the “ drug” of the next.
That the above statements, however, are not entirely without exceptions, is proved by the occurrence of Boletus castaneus for many years
VOL. IV. (MAY 1, 1866.]
pay be found befory or never neat abundant," som
in succession in exactly the same place in a meadow near London, and we have remarked Helrella crispa in a lane near Dunstable, appearing in the early autumn of every year; with the greatest regularity it steadily advances up the lane, further and further each year, after the manner of Marasmius oreades and other fungi, the mycelium evidently exhausting the soil annually; it grows in a manner analogous to the fairy-rings of our downs and meadows.
During the past year, we have paid more than usual attention to the larger fungi, their occurrence, their habitats, and their seasons, and with the assistance of at least two very kind friends interested in these plants, Mrs. Gulson, of Eastcliff, near Teignmouth, Devon, and Miss Lott, of Barton Hall, Kingskerswell, near Newton Abbot, also in Devon, we are enabled to give a very interesting list of the principal species gathered and noted during 1865. Without doubt the plant that should take the first place in this list is Agaricus (Tricholoma) albellus, a single specimen only of which we found at the base of a Beech-tree in an avenue of old Beeches in Thorshy Park, near Ollerton, Notts, in the beginning of September. This is the first and only record of its appearance in this country since the time of Sowerby, who considered it rare, and only found it twice, it is figured in one of his volumes devoted to British fungi, plate cxxii. In Mr. Cooke’s ‘Index Fungorum Britannicorum, it is given as a doubtful or extinct species. Its general appearance would certainly warrant one in first imagining it to be merely an abnormal growth of some other plant belonging to the group Tricholoma. Our specimen, given in Plate XLVI., Fig. 4, appears to be altogether more robust and characteristic than Sowerby's, and parts indefinite or indicated only in the latter, are in this specimen fully and boldly brought out. In addition to the description given by the Rev. M. J. Berkeley, in his Outlines of British Fungology,' we may say the stem in the fresh plant has a slight inclination to be silky outside, becoming ultimately stuffed or inclined to hollow, whilst the word “mottled” would give a better idea of the pileus than “spotted after the fashion of scales;” this part of the plant, as may be seen in Fig. 5, is very conical and fleshy.
The most interesting plant after Agaricus albellus is Boletus cyanescens, a single specimen of which was found by Miss Lott, at Kingskerswell, in the middle of September ; this solitary specimen agreed in the most minute particulars with the plants found by Mr. Cooke in
September, 1864, at Neatishead, in Norfolk, and figured in ‘Journal of Botany,' Vol. III. Plate XXX. The single specimen from Devon, on being broken, besides displaying the brilliant cobalt colour, showed three or four small crimson spots in the fractured parts. In outward appearance this species somewhat resembles B. elephantinus, but on close examination differs in every particular. The latter may be immediately distinguished by its elaborately reticulated stem, whilst the stem of B. cyanescens has not the slightest trace of any network. On the last annual excursion of the Society of Amateur Botanists, we found B. elephantinus in great abundance on Banstead Downs, Surrey, always in company with B. luridus; here we also gathered a single specimen of B. Satanas, and a most magnificent single specimen of this species we found in Crab-tree Wood, near Winchester. Mrs. Gulson also found two plants near Teignmouth. B. æstivalis appeared plentifully in one particular part of Bishop's Wood, near Hampstead, in the spring, it had not been noticed on any previous year, although the wood had been well searched; we found a single specimen of B. alutarius in the autumn in an open part of the same wood. Agaricus (Collybia) tuberosus also deserves mention here, as found sparingly in another part of the wood in the summer, with A. squamosus and Lactarius acris, a very handsome species, turning to a brilliant sienna red when bruised ; it is said to be rare, we never observed it anywhere near town before. Polyporus rutilans we have twice found in this wood. Before leaving the account of this neighbourhood, the record of Polyporus terrestris must find a place; we give a drawing of it in Plate XLVI., Fig. 1, an enlarged drawing of the pores and the arachnoid edge is given in Fig 2, and a section in Fig. 3. This species may generally be found on the naked ground at the north-west of London, but generally in an abnormal or unsatisfactory condition; in the specimen figured, which grew partly under a plank, the pores were beautifully developed, the whole plant having a highly finished and perfected appearance. Fries has suggested that this species may only be an unnatural growth of another species, but its singularly perfect appearance when well grown, throws a serious doubt on the suggestion. Portions of this fungus grew rapidly, readily, and well on peat, under a propagating-glass. Clavaria stricta and C. pistillaris we have found in many different places ; Lentinus cochleatus we found in Hampshire; the rare L.. vulpinus was found in large masses