National Geographic : 1920 May
COMMON MUSHROOMS OF THE UNITED STATES 401 Photograph by A. G . and B. Leeper THIE BRICK-RED HYPIIOLOMA (Hypholoma sublateritium). EDIBILITY DOUBTFUL Few mushrooms are commoner than the Brick-top. It grows in dense clusters at the base of old chestnut and oak trees. About one-half natural size. we were apprised of the fact that mush room-growing is also one of his accom plishments. Scientific travelers in Java and South America record that some of the larger species, the termites, construct veritable mushroom-cellars, in which they "culti vate" (on the mycelium of some large fungi) little globular bodies as food for themselves. Mushroom-growing is a most uncertain business unless conditions favorable to the growth of the spawn are rigidly maintained. The ants know this, too, and take precautions necessary to insure a good "crop." THE COMMON MEADOW MUSH ROOM (Agaricus campester) (See Color Plate I) When the average person uses the word "mushroom" the common Meadow mushroom, or Pink Gill (Agaricus campester) is meant (see Color Plate I and photographs on page 400). Imported from France in enormous quantities before the war; cultivated by our own growers with ever-increasing zeal, and gathered in the wild state as soon as it makes its appearance in the fall, it is so well known that even the most timid feel no hesitation in ordering their juicy tenderloin "smothered with mushrooms." The records, however, show that not infre quently other deleterious species are eaten along with, or in the place of, ,the common mushroom. It therefore behooves the eater of mushrooms to be as cautious with this species as he would be with one less well known. Of course, only the most careless or unin formed would mistake the poisonous Amanitas for the Agaricus; but there are other poison ous species, not necessarily deadly, that are apt to get by the eye and into the mouth if one is unaware of, or neglects to observe, the botanical characters that distinguish the good from the bad. Species that are likely to be mistaken for the common mushroom are dis cussed further on. Remarks on the preparation of the Meadow mushroom for the table are superfluous, as any cook-book will give full directions. The common Meadow mushroom is at home in grassy places, lawns, pastures; never in thick woods; also (when cultivated) in cellars. caves, abandoned mines, and in other places where the temperature can be held between 5o ° and 650 F. and where moisture conditions can be controlled; time, when growing wild, in August and September, occasionally in the spring; when cultivated under suitable condi tions, throughout the year; distribution, cos mopolitan.