National Geographic : 1920 May
422 THE NATIONAL GE( LAWN MUSHROOMS (including Nau coria semiorbicularis, edibility doubtful, and Phqliota praecox, edible) (Sec Color Plate VIII) Some one has said that he who wishes to explore the world should begin at his own doorstep. Addressed to the incipient mush room collector, this maxim imparts wholesome advice, for without stirring far from home yes, within eyeshot of his front door-he can collect enough species to make a respectable list, and not a few that will give him some thing more substantial in the way of a de licious snack of mushrooms; also, he is likely to encounter some that are poisonous. Among the species to be looked for on lawns and other grassy places are: Naucoria semiorbicularis (see Color Plate VIII, the small cluster and single figure in upper right), is very common on lawns. The caps are somewhat sticky in wet weather and the stems have a characteristic, easily removed, pale pith within. Edibility doubtful. Pholiota prcecox, the early Pholiota (see Color Plate VIII, showing two plants, young and old, lower right). This is another com mon, edible, mushroom of our lawns. Appears early in the spring. The young plant shows the ring before it becomes detached from the edge of the cap; the older one shows this tissue hanging down and covered with a dense deposit of the rusty-brown spores. The cap of the early Pholiota varies in color from darkish ocher and brownish to a creamy white more or less pale. Occasionally the surface is finely cracked into little areas. The variety shown here grows in thin woods. In young plants the gills are colored a beautiful warm gray. THE GLISTENING COPRINUS (Coprinus micaceus) (See Color Plate VIII) The Glistening Coprinus (Coprinus mica ceus), illustrated on page 404, is familiar to every one. It is one of the first mushrooms to respond to the showers of early spring. Al most any stump will yield hundreds of speci mens. To save trouble, the abundant crop should be "harvested" with a pair of shears. When simmered down they make an excellent ketchup. The minute glistening particles on the cap and the fine, long grooves on the margin of the same at once mark the species. THE IMPERIAL AGARIC, OR CIE SAR'S MUSHROOM (Amanita caesarea). Edible (See Color Plate IX) This brilliantly colored, stately agaric is the famed "boletus" served at the feasts of the emperors of ancient Rome, and lauded in prose and verse by the writers of that period. So highly was it esteemed by epicures that they )GRAPHIC MAGAZINE prepared and cooked the plants themselves, per forming these operations with utensils of am ber and gold. Special vessels, "boletaria," were used in cooking the boleti, though in some households they doubtless got mixed occasion ally with other pots and pans. Martial, in his "Epigrams," lets one that was so treated bewail its fate: "Although boleti have given me so noble a name, I am now used, I am ashamed to say, for Brussels sprouts." From Juvenal we learn that the preparing of boleti by the young patricians themselves was regarded as a sign of the mollycoddle, for he writes: "Nor will that youth allow any relative to hope better of him who has learnt to peel truffles and to pickle boleti." Cresar's mushroom grows with us today, its distribution being limited, however, to the States east of Ohio. It is especially abundant in the South, and occurs sparingly as far north as Nova Scotia. If there is much showery weather, it may be looked -for in open conif erous and deciduous woods from July to Octo ber. Occasionally it forms huge "fairy-rings." Except for the very real danger of confound ing it with the deadly Ananiia iu scaria (Color Plates II and XV, and chart, page 389), there is no reason why it should not again become a favorite with those who, like the old Romans, are fond of rare delicacies. But those who wish to try it should postpone the pleasure until they are thoroughly familiar with a considerable number of Amanitas, as an error in observation may mean death, pre ceded by horrible agonies (see the symptoms of poisoning by Atmanita nuscaria, on page 403). No difficulty will be experienced in avoiding the citron-colored variety of the deadly Ainanita phalloides (see figure at extreme right of Plate V). The cap in that variety is never orange, the gills and stem are never clear yellow, and the volva is composed of short, thick segments surrounding the upper part of the large, globu lar base of the stem. [For Color Plate X, see the Deadly Ama nita, page 409). THE SOOTY LACTAR (Lactarius lig niotus). Edibility doubtful (See Color Plate XI) To the city dweller, who through torce of circumstances is allowed a limited number of cubic feet of air in which he must "live, move, and have his being," it must be tantalizing to read that this attractive lactar leads its life in the cool, mossy depths of the vast fir forests. In the hot months of July and August, the time of its occurrence, it is well to have ready this excuse for an outing: "I am going in quest of the sooty lactar."