Among the Mushrooms - A Guide For Beginners
by Ellen M. Dallas and Caroline A. Burgin
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AMONG THE MUSHROOMS A Guide for Beginners



Toronto / London Drexel Biddle, Publisher

NEW YORK 67 Fifth Avenue PHILADELPHIA 228 South Fourth St. SAN FRANCISCO 319-325 Sansome St.


Copyright, 1900 By A. J. DREXEL BIDDLE


"Have you not seen in the woods on a late autumn morning a poor fungus or mushroom—a plant without any solidity, nay, that seemed nothing but a soft mush or jelly—by its constant total and inconceivably gentle pushing, manage to break its way up through the frosty ground, and actually to lift a hard crust on its head? It is the symbol of the power of kindness."



The books which have been consulted in the preparation of this work are, "British Fungi," by Rev. John Stevenson; "British Fungus-Flora," by George Massee; "Mushrooms and their Uses," and "Boleti of the United States," by Professor Charles H. Peck, State Botanist of New York; "Moulds, Mildew and Mushrooms," by Professor L. M. Underwood; and a pamphlet by Mr. C. G. Lloyd, entitled "The Volvae of the United States."

No attempt has been made to do more than to put in popular language the statements of experienced botanists, and so to arrange the matter as to aid beginners in their work.

Thanks are due to Mr. Harold Wingate for his suggestions and corrections of the manuscript; to Mr. C. G. Lloyd for permission to print from his photographs; to Miss Laura C. Detwiller for her paintings from nature, which have been here reproduced; and also to Mrs. Harrison Streeter and Miss Mary W. Nichols for their encouragement of the undertaking and suggestions in furtherance of its success.


[Transcriber's Note: The structure of the Table of Contents does not correspond perfectly to the book itself, but all page numbers are correct.]


Introduction, 13 Mushrooms, 23 Antiquity of Fungi, 23 Manner of Growth, 24 Odor, 26 Duration, 27 Uses, 27 Habitat, 28 Structure and growth, 29 Mycelium, 31 The Stem, 34 The Gills, 34 The Spores, 36 The Volva and Veil, 37 The Tubes or Pores, 38

Classification of Fungi, Distinctive Characteristics of Genera. 39 Hymenomycetes, 41 Gasteromycetes, 59 Ascomycetes, 64 By Color of the Spores, 72

General Helps to the Memory, 68

Descriptions of Fungi arranged According to Color of Cap only, 77 Red or Pink, 77 Yellow or Orange, 88 Gray, 100 Green, 106 White, 107 Brown, 115 Purple or Violet, 129

Description of Some Familiar Mushrooms, without regard to color, 131

Direction for Using Keys, 147 Key to Hymenomycetes, 149 Key to Polyporei, 152 Key to Hydnei, 152 Key to Thelephorei, 152 Key to Clavariei, 153 Key to Gasteromycetes and Ascomycetes, 153

Glossary, 155

Index to Descriptions of Fungi, 161

Guide for Determining Genera of Agarics in four Tables, 165


Craterellus cornucopioides— Cortinarius armillatus— Clitocybe laccata— Tremellodon gelatinosum. Frontispiece. Coprinus atramentarius, 26 Amanita vaginata, 37 Omphalia alboflava, 47 Russula pectinata, 76 Lactarius insulsus, 92 Amanita vaginata, 101 Psathyrella disseminata, 116 Lepiota procera, 120 Boletus edulis— Hypholoma perplexum— Marasmius rotula— Calostoma cinnebarinus, 129 Cortinarius distans, 147


This book is intended for those who, though ignorant on the subject, desire to know something about mushrooms. The first question which such an one asks upon finding a mushroom is, "What is its name?" If there is no one near to tell him, then follows the second inquiry, "How can I find it out for myself?" If wild flowers were concerned, Gray's little book, "How the Plants Grow," could be used; and there is also Mrs. Dana's book on "The Wild Flowers," that has given so much pleasure. In the case of mushrooms, however, but one answer can be returned to all questions: "There is no American text-book on mushrooms, there is no manual for beginners."

There are many books on British fungi for students, but we want some popular work easy to understand, with no technical expressions.

This necessity for a simple guide-book has been felt by many. Let us give our own experience. We procured a list of works on fungi, and looked for some volume not too deep for our comprehension nor too costly for our purse. Among those we found were "Handbook for Students" (Taylor); "Edible and Poisonous Fungi" (Cooke), and a pamphlet by Professor Peck, "Mushrooms and Their Uses." This seemed to be the one that we could comprehend most easily, and so, armed with it, and another pamphlet by Professor Underwood, called "Suggestions to Collectors of Fleshy Fungi," which contained a simple key, we started out to make discoveries. We afterward procured some publications of Mr. C. G. Lloyd, which were of great assistance, and lastly a glossary published by the Boston Mycological Society, a necessary addition to our library.

We found Professor Peck's book was confined to edible mushrooms, and it soon became too limited to satisfy our craving for further knowledge—it incited a longing to know something of inedible fungi.

The rest is soon told. We were advised to get either a copy of Stevenson's "British Fungi" or of Massee's works. We did so, but found them too advanced to be readily used by the unlearned. Then the idea arose, How can we help others in their difficulties? This little book is the answer. It will not be of use to advanced students, they will only criticise and discover how much has been left unsaid; but the beginner is more easily satisfied with the extent of information gained, and if a taste for knowledge is encouraged the object of this book is attained.

This explanation will also account for the use of simple terms. We find a tiny fungus which looks like a brownish bird's nest, with some miniature eggs in it, or a shining white mushroom, and we are told its name in Latin; it is described in terms meaningless to the ignorant, we lose interest, and our attention flags. We began for pleasure and recreation, but it became irksome and fatiguing, and the subject which might have amused us and helped to pass many an idle hour is put aside and abandoned. Yet this study is a most fascinating one. We all long for pleasant subjects of thought in our leisure hours, and there can be nothing more diverting and absorbing than the investigation of the beautiful and familiar plants around us.

When we leave the bustling, noisy streets of a city and go into the quiet fields and woods the contrast is very great. A walk for exercise alone is often dull and tiresome. We cannot be assured of pleasant companions, nor is there always a fine view or picturesque scenery to reward us during our strolls, but there are plants to be found and gathered, and when these fail us, then the bright-hued mushrooms may arrest our attention. The discovery of new specimens, the learning their names, the knowledge of their curious organizations, will all add an interest to our lives. It will inspire us with a love of nature, and open our eyes to many objects of which we have before been unobservant. Besides this it obliges us to be accurate. Our descriptions must be exact or they are of no use.

Let us imagine ourselves taking a stroll in the woods or down some shady lane, and see what we can find there.

The golden-rod and asters adorn the roadsides, the odors of the sweet gale and scented fern are wafted gratefully to our senses as we pass along the lanes, and there, among the fallen leaves, at the very edge of the woods, peers out a bright yellow mushroom, brighter from the contrast to the dead leaves around, and then another, close by, and then a shining white cap; further on a mouse-colored one, gray, and silky in texture. What a contrast of colors. What are they? By what names shall we call them?

Let us first carefully dig up the yellow one. We have brought a basket and trowel, and can examine them thoroughly. We must dig down deep so as not to break off the stem. There is a ring or collar around it near the top. There is a bulb at the base, with some slight membrane attached. The cap is orange color, almost smooth, covered with a few spots like warts, and there are some lines on the margin. The gills are not attached to the stem, and are white with a creamy hue. The stem is also white, tinged faintly with yellow. We will take a penknife and divide it into halves, cutting straight through the stem and cap. We find the stem is filled with a spongy substance, and we can now see more clearly the position of the gills. Our specimen measures 2 inches across the cap, and the stem is 2 or 3 inches long. It is an Amanita, resembling the Fly Amanita, which we will probably soon discover. Our fungus is Frost's Amanita, named after the botanist who first placed it on the list, Frost. It is not among the British fungi. It is American.

Now let us dig up the shining white one. It is much larger than the yellow fungus, handsome, pure-looking, with a rather slender stem. The cap is nearly 4 inches across, the flesh is white. The stem is long, solid, with a bulbous base. There is a wide, loose ring high up on the stem. The membrane around the base is large and thick. The stem is scaly and shining white like the cap. This pure-looking, handsome mushroom is one of the most poisonous of its kind. It is called Amanita virosa—the poisonous Amanita, from a Latin word meaning poison. We have never found any specimen with insects on it. They seem to know its deadly qualities and shun its acquaintance.

Let us look at the gray mushroom and see how it differs from the others. It has no ring, its color is a soft gray or mouse color, the margin is deeply grooved. The cap is almost flat, the flesh does not reach to the margin, and is white. It is very smooth, but another time we might find the same mushroom with scales upon it. The cap measures 3 inches across. The stem tapers upward, is slender, and is 4 inches long. The gills are free, not attached to the stem, and are swollen in the middle. They are not very close together and are shining white. The base extends deep into the ground, and is sheathed with a membrane that is loose and easily broken off. It is a very common mushroom, and we shall often find it, but it varies in color; it is sometimes umber, often white, and even has a faint yellowish or greenish hue in the centre.

So far we have only looked at Amanitas. They are conspicuous, and the large rings and colors are striking and interesting to the novice; but look at that clay bank that borders on our road, and perhaps we may discover some Boleti. Even a beginner in the study of mushrooms can tell the difference between a boletus and those we have been examining. Here are two or three mushrooms growing together. What is there different about them? We see no ring, no membrane around the base of stem, and what are these tubes beneath the cap so unlike the gills of the others? They have the appearance somewhat of a sponge. These are the pores or tubes that contain the spores. Let us divide the fungus. At the first touch of the knife, through the stem, the color begins to change, and in a moment stem, tubes, and cap turn to a bright blue. We can see the color steal along, at first faintly, and then deepen into a darker blue. The cap is a light brownish yellow color, 2 inches broad, covered with woolly scales. The tubes are free from the stem. They have been white, but are changing to yellow. The mouths or openings of the tubes are becoming bluish-green. The stem is swollen in the middle. It is covered with a bloom. It is stuffed with a pith, and tapers toward the apex. It is like the cap in color, and measures 1 1/2 inch in length. The mouths of the tubes are round. This is Boletus cyanescens, or the bluing Boletus, as named by Professor Peck in his work on Boleti. He says it grows more in the North, and sometimes is much larger than the one we found.

We turn to the bank in hopes of discovering another, and see, instead, what appears to be a mass of jelly half-hidden in the clay, and in the midst some bright scarlet cherries, or at least something that resembles them. We take the trowel and loosen them from the earth, and there, among the gelatinous matter, we find small round balls as large as a common marble, covered by a bright red skin. When cut in half we see they are filled with a pure white substance, like the inside of a young puff-ball. This is quite a discovery. We must look in our books for its name. It is not in our British manual, but we learn from Professor Peck that it is called Calostoma cinnabarinus. Calostoma is a Greek word meaning beautiful mouth, and cinnabarinus is taken from cinnabaris, which means dragon's-blood. We are not responsible for the names given to plants, but cannot help wishing that some might be changed or shortened.

We could go on prolonging our search, and describe many wonderful fungi, so easily found on a summer day, but as our object is to excite curiosity and interest and not fatigue the reader, we will here pause, and afterward arrange the descriptions of mushrooms in a separate section. The ones we have described may be found in the Middle States and in New England.



Fungi have existed from early geological ages. They flourished in the Carboniferous period, when the enormous beds of coal were formed, a space of time that occupied many millions of years. Bessey says that the oldest known member of the order of membrane fungi, Hymenomycetes, was called by the name of "Polyporites Bowmanii." During the Tertiary period members of the genera now known under the names of Lenzites, Polyporus, and Hydnum were all in existence. It is interesting to know that even before the Tertiary period the undergrowth consisted of ferns and fleshy fungi. What a time of delight for the botanist! But there were no human beings in those days to roam amongst that luxuriant undergrowth, and only the fossil remains in the deposits of coal and peat are left to tell of their former existence.


Fungi are either solitary, grow in clusters, in groups, or in rings and arcs of circles.

The species called the Fairy mushroom, Marasmius oreades, is the most familiar of all those that grow in rings. Besides this there is the Horse mushroom, Agaricus arvensis; the Chantarelle, Cantharellus cibarius; the Giant mushroom, Clitocybe maximus, and St. George's mushroom, Tricholoma gambosa. The latter species is reproduced in rings every year. It is a popular saying that when the ring is unbroken there will be a plentiful harvest the following season. It is an early mushroom, appearing in April. It derives its name from the fact of its appearing about April 23d, which is St. George's day in the English calendar. Besides these mushrooms there is another Tricholoma, T. tigrinus, the Tiger mushroom, which sometimes appears in circles. The word tigrinus means a tiger. The cap is variegated with dark brown spots, hence the name. Then there is the Limp Clitocybe, C. flaccida, so called because flaccida means limp. It also appears in rings (according to Stevenson), while the stems are united under the soil.

The waxy Clitocybe, C. laccata, is not spoken of as having that mode of growth in circles, but we have seen many of these mushrooms appearing in arcs of circles, and forming almost perfect rings, particularly after showers of rain, and always on the sides of roads.

Many fairy rings have lasted for years and are very old. We have read of one, in the county of Essex, England, that measured 120 feet across. The grass that covered it was coarse and of a dark green color. What causes these fairy rings? An explanation is given in a newspaper extract from "Knowledge," in which it is said: "A patch of spawn arising from a single spore or a number of spores spreads centrifugally in every direction, and forms a common circular felt, from which the fruit arises at its extreme edge; the soil in the inner part of the disc is exhausted, and the spawn dies or becomes effete there, while it spreads all around in an outward direction and produces another crop whose spawn spreads again. The circle is thus continually enlarged, and extends indefinitely until some cause intervenes to destroy it. The peculiarity of growth first arises from a tendency of certain fungi to assume a circular form."

The perplexing mushroom, Hypholoma perplexum, often grows in clusters, and so does the inky Coprinus, C. atramentarius, also the glistening Coprinus, C. micaceus. The honey-colored mushroom, Armillaria melloea, is often found in crowded clusters, and this growth is common to many fungi.


Many mushrooms have distinct odors and are distinguished by this feature. The genus Marasmius may be known by the garlic-like smell peculiar to it, but it never has a mealy perfume. There is one species, the disgusting mushroom, M. impudicus, that Stevenson says has a strong, unpleasant odor; this is also the case in two other species, the ill-odored mushroom, M. foetidus, and the penetrating mushroom, M. perfurans.

The Chantarelle, Cantharellus cibarius, has the smell of a ripe apricot, a delicious odor and easily detected. One of the Lepiotas, the tufted Lepiota, L. cristata, has a powerful smell of radishes. Some Tricholomas have a strong odor of new meal. The fragrant Clitocybe, C. odora, has the smell of anise.

There is a very small white, scaly mushroom, never more than an inch across the cap, and with a stem hardly two inches high, that has the distinction of possessing the strongest smell of all the membrane fungi (Hymenomycetes). It is called the narcotic Coprinus, C. narcoticus, and it derives its name from its odor. It is very fragile and grows on heaps of manure.


There is another Coprinus, the radiating Coprinus, C. radiatus, so called from the radiating folds on the cap, that may carry off the honor of being the shortest-lived of all the membrane fungi. Stevenson says "it withers up with a breath." It is often overlooked, as it perishes after sunrise. It grows in troops, and is perhaps the most tender of all mushrooms.

The genus Marasmius, belonging to the white spored Agarics, has the power of reviving under moisture after withering, so it may represent a genus that endures longest. None of the fleshy fungi have long lives.


Besides the uses of fungi as scavengers of creation, there are some which have a commercial value and yield an article called "amadou." This is a French word, used for a sort of tinder or touch-wood, an inflammable substance which is prepared from a fungus,[1] Boletus igniarius, and grows upon the cherry, ash and other trees. It is made by steeping it in a strong solution of saltpetre and cutting it in small pieces. It is also called German tinder. Thome says that Boletus laricis and Polyporus fomentarius yield the "amadou" of commerce. Then, again, the birch Polyporus, P. betulinus, is used for razor strops. We need not say anything on the uses of fungi as articles of food. This subject has been exhausted by many able mycologists, and, excepting the mere mention of some mushrooms that are edible, the authors have abstained from this part of the subject.

[Footnote 1: Worcester's Dictionary, citing Brande.]


It is interesting to observe where different mushrooms love to dwell. Some are always found on roadsides, as if seeking the notice of passers-by. These are the Clitocybes and Stropharia, and many of the cup-fungi, while the Boleti take shelter in clay banks and hide in every cranny and nook that they can find. Russulas are seen in open woods, rising out of the earth, also the Lactarius, which seems to like the shade of trees. The Cortinarius also prefers their shelter. The Coprinus loves the pastures and fields, near houses and barns, and dwells in groups upon the lawns. The Hypholoma grows in clusters on the stumps of trees. Marasmius is found among dead twigs and leaves. The white Amanitas flourish in woods and open ground. There are some, like Pleurotus, that grow in trunks of trees, and make their way through openings in the bark. Every dead tree or branch in the forest is crowded with all species of Polyporus, while carpets, damp cellars, plaster walls and sawdust are favorite abodes of many fungi.


Mushrooms consist wholly of cells. These cells do not contain either starch or the green coloring-matter, called chlorophyll, which exists in other plants. They are either parasites or scavengers, and sometimes both. The food of fungi must form a part of some animal or plant. When they commence to grow it is by the division of cells, not laterally, but in one direction, upward. As the mushroom grows the stem lengthens, the cap expands and bursts the veil that surrounds it, and gradually gains its perfect shape.

Every mushroom has a spore-bearing layer of cells, which is called the hymenium. This hymenium is composed of a number of swollen, club-shaped cells, called basidia, and close to them, side by side, are sterile, elongated cells, named paraphyses. In the family called Hymenomycetes there are mixed with these, and closely packed together, one-celled sterile structures named cystidia.

The basidia are called mother-cells because they produce the spores.

There is one great group of fungi called Basidiomycetes, so named from having their stalked spores produced on basidia.

The basidia are formed on the end of threadlike branched bodies which grow at the apex, and are called hyphae. On top of the basidia are minute stalk-like branches, called sterigmata (singular sterigma), and each branch carries a naked spore. They are usually four in number. This group of Basidiomycetes is divided into (1) Stomach fungi (Gasteromycetes), (2) Spore sac fungi (Ascomycetes), and (3) Membrane fungi (Hymenomycetes).


The Mycelium is commonly called the spawn of mushrooms.

It is the vegetative part of the fungus, and is composed of minute, cylindrical, thread-like branching bodies called hyphae. When we wish to cultivate mushrooms we plant the spawn not the spores. The thread-like branches permeate the earth or whatever the mushroom grows upon. The color of the mycelium is generally white, but it may also be yellow or red. Its structural details are only visible through a microscope.

Every fungus does not bear the spores exposed upon the cap nor underneath it. The first group of Gasteromycetes, or "Stomach fungi," as Professor Peck has called them in his work on "Mushrooms and Their Uses," have the spore-bearing surface enclosed in a sac-like envelope in the interior of the plant. The genus Lycoperdon belongs to this group, and it contains the puff-balls so common in this country.

In the second group, Ascomycetes, or "Spore sac fungi," the spores are produced in delicate sacs called asci. The fruit-bearing part is often cup-shaped, disc-like, or club-shaped, thicker at the top or covered with irregular swellings and depressions like the human brain.

The Morels and Helvellas belong to this group. One often meets with mushrooms of the former genus in the spring, and they are striking and interesting looking fungi. There are many of both genera that are edible. They will be described in detail later.

Botanists have classified Agarics by means of the color of the spores, and it is the only sure way of determining to what class they belong. We propose in this work also to enumerate the mushrooms according to the color of the pileus or cap, and give a list, with a description of each, after this arrangement. This, of course, is merely superficial, but may interest and attract a beginner in the study of fungi. This list will be placed at the end of the book.

The descriptions will be preceded by a classification according to color of spores, some hints to students, and aids to learning which have been found useful to others.

It is appalling to a beginner when he first reads the long list of names of classes, genera, and species, as the latter are so closely allied in resemblance. One has not always the time nor inclination to condense facts for himself, nor to collect necessary information so as to remember it most easily, all which has to be done in the absence of an American manual or textbook. A great deal has been written for us, it is true, by experienced botanists, but a general and comprehensive work has yet to be compiled.

Before we begin our list of fungi, let us learn what a mushroom is, and know something of its component parts. A mushroom consists of a stem and a cap, or pileus. The cap is the most conspicuous part. The color varies from white and the lightest hues of brown up to the brightest yellow and scarlet. Its size is from an eighth of an inch to sixteen inches and more in diameter. The surface is smooth or covered with little grains (granular) or with minute scales (squamulose) shining like satin, or kid-like in its texture. It may be rounded and depressed (concave), elevated (convex), level (plane), or with a little mound in the centre (umbonate). It may be covered with warts, marked with lines (striate), or zoned with circles. The margin may be acute or obtuse, rolled backward or upward (revolute), or rolled inward (involute); it may be thick or thin.


The stem is the stalk that supports the cap. It is sometimes attached to one side, and then it is said to be lateral or between the centre and side, and it is called eccentric; when it is in the middle, or nearly so, it is central.

It is either solid, fleshy, stuffed with pith, or hollow, fibrous, firm and tough (cartilaginous). It is often brittle and breaks easily, or it will not divide evenly in breaking. Its color and size both vary, like the cap. It may taper toward the base, or toward the apex, be even or cylindrical. Its surface may be smooth (glabrous), covered with scales (squamulose), rough (scabrous), dotted, lacerated, or be marked with a network of veins (reticulated). The base may be bulbous, or only swollen (incrassated), and it may root in the ground.


The gills or lamellae are the radiating parts, like knife blades, that extend from the centre to the margin underneath the cap. They contain the spores. The group of mushrooms that have gills are called Agaracini or Agarics. The gills vary in color; sometimes they change color when mature. When they are close together they are called crowded, and when far apart distant. There are often smaller gills between the others, and sometimes they are two-forked (bifurcate), and are connected by veins.

They are narrow or wide, swell out in the middle (ventricose), are curved like a bow (arcuate), and have a sudden wave or sinus in the edge near the stem (sinuate).

There are various modes of attachment to the stem. Where the gills are not attached to it they are called free; slightly so, adnexed; and when wholly fastened they are adnate. They may run down on the stem, and are then called decurrent.


The color of the spores can be seen by cutting off the cap, and laying it gills downward, on a sheet of paper, two or three hours or more. The impression will remain on the paper. It is better to use blue paper, so that the white spores can be seen more clearly. The Agarics are divided into classes according to the color of the spores, so it is of great importance to examine them. The shape and size of the spores can only be learned by the use of a microscope. We have not attempted in this elementary work to do more than mention them.


The universal veil or volva is a thin covering which encloses the entire young plant. The cap grows and expands and bursts this veil into fragments. That part of the veil which breaks away from the cap, called the secondary veil, forms the annulus or ring. It resembles a collar, and is generally fastened to the stem. It is not always permanent or fixed in one place. It may disappear when the plant is mature. It is often fragile, loose and torn, and sometimes is movable on the stem.

The name volva is particularly given to that part of the universal veil which remains around the base of the stem, either sheathing it or appressed closely to it, or in torn fragments. The volva and ring, or annulus, are not always present in mushrooms. The rupture of the veil often causes a part of it to remain on the cap in the shape of warts or scales. These may disappear as the plant grows older, and are sometimes washed off by a heavy rain.


There is a group of fungi called Polyporei, which have tubes or pores instead of gills. They are placed under the pileus just as the gills are situated, and contain the spores. The length of the tubes varies. The mouths or openings are also of different shapes and sizes. They are sometimes round, and at other times irregular. The color of the mouths is often different from the tubes, and changes when mature. The mouths, too, are sometimes stuffed when young. The attachment to the pileus is to be noted. They may be free or easily detached, depressed around the stem or fastened to it (adnate.)


The color of both gills and tubes is an important feature in the classification of fungi.

We have now arrived at a point where the amateur may become wearied at the reading of long names and the enumeration of classes and genera. Stevenson has said in his preface to his work on British Fungi that "there is no royal road to the knowledge of fungi," and if we become enough interested to pursue the subject we will probably discover it at this point. We will try and make this part as simple as possible, and only mention those genera which are most common.

Mushrooms may be divided into three great classes:

I. Gasteromycetes, or "Stomach fungi," where the spores are produced within the plant.

II. Ascomycetes, or "Spore sac fungi," where the spores are produced in delicate sacs called asci.

III. Hymenomycetes, or "Membrane fungi," where the spores are produced on the lower surface of the cap.


This class is divided into six orders:

1. Gill-bearing mushrooms, Agarics, or Agaricini.

2. Fungi with pores or tubes, Polyporei.

3. Fungi with awl-shaped teeth or spines, Hydnei.

4. Fungi with an even spore-bearing or slightly wrinkled surface, Thelephorei.

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

6. Gelatinous plants, irregularly expanded, Tremellinei.

The first order, the Agarics, contains most of the well-known mushrooms, as well as most of the edible ones. They have been divided into different classes according to the color of the spores. In a great many cases the color is the same as that of the gills; but this is not always the case, especially in the young plants. The Agarics are divided into four sections:

1. White spores, Leucosporae.

2. Rosy, salmon or pinkish spores, Rhodosporae.

3. Brown or ochraceous spores, Ochrosporae.

4. Dark purplish or black spores, Melanosporae.

There are an infinite number of mushrooms we shall not mention. The study of fungi has only begun in this country, and there is an immense vista for future students. The amateur or beginner may be well satisfied if after one summer spent in studying mushrooms he can remember the distinguishing types of the various genera, and can say with certainty, "This is a Russula, or this a Cortinarius, or this a Tricholoma." He will then feel he has taken one important step in this "royal road."



The names of the genera are all derived from Greek and Latin words. Stevenson, in his book on British Fungi, has given the original words and also their meanings. We take the liberty of copying the English term only, and will place it beside the name of each genus.


The first genus we will mention is:

HYGROPHORUS, from a word meaning moist.

This genus contains plants growing on the ground. They soon decay. The cap is sticky or watery, the gills often branched. It has a peculiarity in the fact that the hymenial cells, or the layer of mother cells, contained in the gills, change into a waxy mass, at length removable from the trama. The trama is that substance which extends with and is like in structure to the layer of mother cells.[1] It lies between the two layers of gills in Agarics. The gills seem full of watery juice, and they are more or less decurrent, i. e., extend down the stem. This genus contains many bright-colored and shining species.

[Footnote 1: In the young plant it forms the framework of the gills.]

We are obliged to refer to the hymenial layer in this place, though the beginner will scarcely understand the meaning of the term. The distinguishing peculiarity of this genus consists in the cells changing to a waxy mass. In the chapter on the structure of mushrooms we have tried to explain something about the cells and the Hymenium.


This genus is fleshy, growing on the ground; the cap is often depressed in the centre. The gills are adnato-decurrent, that is, partly attached and prolonged down the stem. They are waxy, rather rigid and acute at the edge. The distinctive feature is the milk that flows when the gills are cut. Sometimes the milk changes color.

RUSSULA = red.

This genus grows on the ground, is fleshy, and soon decays. The cap is depressed, or becomes so at a later stage of growth. The stem is polished, generally white, and is very brittle. The gills are rigid, fragile, with an acute edge, and mostly equal in length. Some species exude watery drops. It contains many species of beautiful colors.

CANTHARELLUS = vase or cup.

The principal characteristic of this genus consists in the fold-like nature of its gills. The gills are thick, with an obtuse edge, and are branched and decurrent. The genus is fleshy, soft, and putrescent, and has no veil. Some plants grow on the ground and others on mosses.

MARASMIUS = to wither.

The genus is tough and dry, not decaying, but shrivelling, and reviving when wet. The stem is tough (cartilaginous.) The gills are rather distant, the edge acute and entire. The plants often have a peculiar smell and taste, like garlic. They are small and thin, commonly growing on the outside of another plant (epiphytal) on the ground, on putrid leaves, or on roots of grasses.


The origin of this name is doubtful. Galen, an ancient Greek physician, is said to have given the name to some edible fungi (Stevenson). It is distinguished as the only genus that has both volva and ring. The young plant is enveloped by a universal veil which bursts at maturity. The volva around the base of the stem is formed by the splitting or bursting of the veil, and its different modes of rupture mark the several species. It is sometimes shaped very prettily, and has the appearance of a cup around the stem. It contains many poisonous as well as edible mushrooms.

LEPIOTA = a scale.

This genus has a universal veil. The gills are free. Sometimes the ring, or annulus, is movable on the stem. The cap is often covered with warts, or the skin torn into scales, and the stem sometimes inserted in a cup or socket.

ARMILLARIA = ring or bracelet.

There is no universal veil in this genus, only a partial one that forms a ring, or sometimes only indicating the ring by scales. The species usually grow on the ground.

TRICHOLOMA = from two Greek words, hair and fringe.

This genus is especially noted for its sinuate gills. They have a tooth next to the stem. All grow on the ground and are fleshy. There are sometimes fibrils which adhere to the margin of the cap, the remains of the veil. There are no plants in this genus that are considered poisonous.

CLITOCYBE = a declivity.

The gills in this genus are attenuated behind and are attached to stem (adnate) or run down it (decurrent.) The cap is generally plano depressed or funnel-shaped (infundibuliform). Some are fragrant; the odor resembles fresh apricots.

COLLYBIA = a small coin.

The stem in this genus is tough or stuffed with a pith, and covered with a cartilaginous rind. The margin of the cap is smooth and turned under at first (involute). The gills are soft, free, or only adnexed behind. The plants grow on the outside of wood and leaves, even on fungi, but are often rooted on the ground, and do not dry up. The gills are sometimes brightly colored.

MYCENA = a fungus.

In this genus also the stem is cartilaginous, the cap is sometimes bell-shaped (campanulate) and slender. The plants are generally small and fragile. The cap is from 1/8 to 1 1/2 inch broad. The stem is sometimes filiform, and they grow on stumps and sticks, dead wood, twigs and leaves. They may be found early in the season, but oftener from August to November.

OMPHALIA = depressed.

The stem in this genus is cartilaginous. The gills run down the stem. The cap is somewhat membranaceous. It is oftener depressed and funnel-shaped. The gills are often branched. The species grow in moist places. The plants are generally small. The largest only measure 2 inches, the smallest only 1/2 inch across the cap.

PLEUROTUS = side and an ear.

In this genus the stem is sometimes wanting, or it grows on the side, or between the centre and margin (eccentric). The plants rarely grow on the ground. They are irregular and fleshy or membranaceous. The time of growth is generally in the autumn. There are a few edible species.


In this section of Agarics the spores are red, pink, or salmon color.

PLUTEUS = a penthouse.

This genus has neither volva nor ring. The gills are rounded behind and free, entirely separate from stem, white, then flesh-colored, but often tinged with yellow. The cuticle is sometimes covered with fibres, or with a bloom upon it (pruinose). The apex of the stem is inserted in the cap like a peg, and in this it resembles the Lepiotas. The species grow on or near trunks, appear early, and last until late in the season.

ENTOLOMA = within and fringe.

This genus resembles Tricholoma, which belongs to the white-spored Agarics and Hebeloma, which is rosy-spored. The species grow on the ground, and are found chiefly after rain. The stem is fleshy or fibrous, soft, sometimes waxy. The cap has the margin incurved, the gills have a tooth (sinuate), and are adnexed to the stem. Some species smell of fresh meal.



This genus has a veil resembling a cobweb. The gills generally become cinnamon-colored. They grow on the ground in woods, during late summer and autumn. Some of our most beautiful mushrooms belong to this group. The veil is not persistent, and soon disappears.

PHOLIOTA = a scale.

This genus mostly grows on trunks. The partial or secondary veil takes the form of a ring. The cap is often covered with scales.

INOCYBE = fibre and head.

This genus is distinguished by the silky fibrilose covering of the cap, which never has a distinct pellicle, and by the veil which is lasting and of like nature to the fibrils of the cap. All grow upon the ground.

HEBELOMA = youth and fringe.

In this genus the margin of the cap is at first incurved. The gills are attached with a tooth, with the edge more or less of a different color, often whitish. The stem is fleshy, fibrous, somewhat mealy at the apex. They grow on the ground and are strong-smelling, appear early in the autumn, and continue until late in the season.

PAXILLUS = a small stake.

This genus is fleshy, putrescent; at first the cap has the margin turned under (involute), then it unfolds gradually and dilates. There are some species of both Tricholoma and Clitocybe that resemble it. The gills separate easily from the cap, and in this it is similar to the Boleti, where the tubes separate also with ease.


PSALLIOTA = a ring or collar.

The common mushroom Agaricus campestris belongs to this group. The gills are rounded behind and free, the stem has a collar. There are many edible mushrooms in this genus. They grow in pastures, and the larger ones are called Champignons. In former times when one spoke of eating mushrooms the species A. campestris, or campester, was always the one denoted.

STROPHARIA = a sword belt.

This genus has a ring. The gills are generally attached to the stem; some species grow on the ground, and some grow on other fungi. They are sometimes bell-shaped and then flattened, often with a mound or umbo.

HYPHOLOMA = web and fringe.

The veil in this genus is woven in a web which adheres to the margin of the cap. The cap is more or less fleshy, and the margin at first incurved. The gills are attached or have a tooth. There is no ring. The plants grow in tufts on wood, or at the base of trees in the autumn.

PSILOCYBE = naked and head.

The cap in this genus is fleshy, smooth, and the margin at first incurved. Gills turn dusky purple. The stem is cartilaginous, hollow or stuffed. No veil is visible. They grow on the ground.

PSATHYRA = friable.

The cap is conical and soft, the margin at first straight, and then pressed to the stem. The plants are slender, fragile and moist. Gills become purple. They grow on the ground, or on trunks of trees.

COPRINUS = dung.

In this genus the spores are black. It has two distinctive features: one, that the gills cohere at first, and are not separated when young; and the other, that they dissolve into an inky fluid. The gills are also scissile, that is, they can be split, and are linear and swollen in the middle. The plants last but a short time. Some are edible.


We now pass to the next order, the Polyporei. We will mention four genera:


The name is that of a fungus much prized for its delicacy by the Romans, and is derived from a Greek word meaning a clod, which denotes the round figure of the plant.

The Boleti grow on the ground, are fleshy and putrescent with central stems. The tubes are packed closely together and are easily separated.

FISTULINA = a pipe.

In this genus the tubes are free and distinct from one another. They are somewhat fleshy and grow upon wood.

POLYPORUS = many pores.

The pores or tubes in this genus are not separate from one another. They are persistent fungi, most of them growing upon wood.

DAEDALEA = curiously wrought.

The name of this genus is derived from Daedalus, who constructed the labyrinth at Crete, in which the monster Minotaur was kept. It was one of the seven wonders of the world.

These fungi grow on wood, and become hard. The pores are firm when fully grown; they are sinuous and labyrinthine.


The name is derived from a word meaning a spine. This order contains many genera, two of which we will mention, Hydnum and Tremellodon.


Hydnum is derived from a Greek word, the name of an edible fungus. The plants in this genus are furnished with spines or teeth, instead of gills or tubes, and these contain the spores. The species are divided according to the stem. In some it is central and grows on the ground, in others it is lateral, and the cap is semicircular (dimidiate), and others again have no stem. There are some species that have no cap, and the spines are either straight or oblique. There are a few that are edible, but generally they have a bitter taste. However, some writers say that Hydnum repandum, or the spreading Hedgehog, is "delicious." This mushroom and the one named "Medusa's head," H. caput Medusae, are perhaps the most conspicuous of the order. The latter is very large. Its color is at first white, then becoming ashy gray. The spines on the upper surface are twisted, while the lower ones are long and straight. It grows on trunks of trees. In the spreading Hydnum the margin of the cap is arched and irregular. It grows on the ground.

TREMELLODON = jelly and a tooth.

The fungi in this genus are gelatinous. The cap is nearly semicircular in shape, sometimes fan-shaped and rounded in front. The spines or teeth are soft, white and delicate. We found one specimen in the month of September in the mountains of the State of New York.


In this order the lower surface of the cap is smooth and even, or slightly wrinkled. It is divided into several genera, only two of which we will enumerate, Craterellus and Stereum.


The species called the "horn of plenty," Craterellus cornucopioides, belongs to this genus, and is often found. Stevenson says it is common. It is trumpet-shaped (tubiform). The cap is of a dingy black color, and the stem is hollow, smooth, and black. We found quite a small specimen, the pileus not more than 1 1/2 inch broad, but it may measure 3 inches. The spore-bearing surface was of an ash color. The margin of the cap was wavy, and it was hollow right through to the base. It was only 2 inches high, and there was scarcely any stem.

STEREUM = hard.

The genus Stereum is woody and leathery in nature, somewhat zoned, and looks like some Polyporci. It grows on wood, on stumps, and on dead wood.


This order contains several genera, but one only will be mentioned, that of Clavaria.

CLAVARIA = club.

The common name often given to this genus is "Fairy Clubs." We have described several species in our list of fungi, and will only say that these are fleshy fungi, either simple or branched. The expression fleshy, so often met with in these pages, is used in speaking of plants when they are succulent and composed of juicy, cellular tissue. They do not become leathery. In the genus Clavaria the fungi have no caps, but they have stems. There are a few edible species. One can scarcely walk any distance without seeing some species of Clavaria. They are conspicuous, sometimes attractive looking, and interesting in their variety.

The genus Cortinarius, one of the order of Agarics, has been already described, but it contains so many species that it deserves especial mention.

They are difficult to define. The genus has been subdivided by botanists into tribes which it may be well to enumerate. We have followed Stevenson's arrangement.

He divides Cortinarius into six tribes.

1. Phlegacium = clammy moisture. In this tribe the cap is fleshy and sticky (viscous), while the stem is firm and dry. In all Cortinarii the gills become cinnamon-colored. There are many large-sized mushrooms in this tribe, the cap sometimes measuring 6 inches across.

2. Myxacium = mucous. This tribe has the stem sticky (viscous), and the universal veil is glutinous. The cap is fleshy but thin. Gills attached to stem and decurrent.

3. Inoloma = fibre and fringe. It contains distinguished species. The cap is at first silky, with innate scales or fibrils, is equally fleshy and dry. The stem is fleshy and rather bulbous.

4. Dermocybe = skin and head. The cap and stem are both thinner in this tribe than in Inoloma. The pileus becomes thin when old, and is dry, not moist. It is at first silky. The color of the gills is changeable, which makes it hard to distinguish the species.

5. Telamonia = lint. Pileus moist; at first smooth or sprinkled with superficial whitish fibres of the veil. Flesh thin, or becoming so abruptly at the margin; the veil is somewhat double, which is a distinguishing characteristic of this tribe.

6. Hygrocybe = moist and head. Cap in this tribe is smooth or only covered with white superficial fibrils, not gluey, but moist when fresh, and changing color when dry. Flesh thin.


The Basidia-bearing fungi, or Basidiomycetes, are divided into three classes, as has been already stated. The third class, Hymenomycetes, or Membrane fungi, has been described, but there remain two other groups of which we will now speak more fully. They may be considered too difficult for beginners, and we would not venture to enter further into the subject were it not that some of the most familiar fungi belong to these classes—such as Puff-balls, Morels, and Helvellas.

The first class, called the Gasteromycetes, or Stomach fungi, matures its spores on the inside of the plant. The distinction between this class and that of the Membrane fungi, which ripens its spores on the outside, may be more readily understood by one familiar with the structure of the fig, whose flowers are situated on the interior of its pear-shaped, hollow axis, which is the fruit.

We will divide the Stomach fungi into four orders—1, the thick-skinned fungi (Sclerodermae); 2, the Bird's-nest fungi (Nidulariae); 3, the Puff-balls (Lycoperdons); 4, the Stink horns (Phalloidae.)


Our attention will be confined to only one genus, and, indeed, one species of this family. We often see in our walks what at a first glance look like potatoes lying along the road, and the suggestion arises that some careless boy has been losing potatoes from his basket on his way home from the country store. We stoop to pick them up, and find them rooted to the ground and covered with warts and scales. We cut them open and find them a purplish-black color inside. It is a mass of closely packed unripe spores. In a few days the upper part of the outside covering decays, bursts open, and the ripe spores escape. This is called the common hard-rind fungus, or Scleroderma vulgare.


This is again divided into three genera. The Crucible (crucibulum), the Cup (Cyathus), the Bird's-nest proper (Nidularia.)

We often find on a wood-pile or a fallen tree some of the members of the Bird's-nest family. It is fascinating to examine them in their various stages of development. First we see a tiny buff knot, cottony in texture and closely covered; next, another rather larger, with its upper covering thrown aside, displaying the tiny eggs, which prompts one to look around for the miniature mother bird; then we find a nest empty with the fledglings flown. The characteristic that distinguishes the Bird's-nest fungi from others consists in the fact that the spores are produced in small envelopes that do not split open, and which are enclosed in a common covering, called the peridium. One species is known by the fluted inside of the covering, which is quite beautiful. They are all small and grow in groups.


The Lycoperdons contain several genera, among which we select the Puff-balls proper and the Earth stars.

What child is there who lives in the country and does not know the Puff-ball? With what gusto he presses it and watches what he calls the smoke pouring from the chimney. Indeed, the outpouring of myriads of spores in its ripe stage does suggest smoke from a chimney. The puff-ball, when young, is of a firm texture, nearly round, grayish, or brownish outside, but of a pure white within. There are several genera, but we have selected two—1, Lycoperdon; and 2, Earth Star, or Geaster.

LYCOPERDON = the puff-ball.

The puff-balls vary greatly in size, the smallest measure 1/2 inch up to the largest, about 15 inches. Professor Peck describes them thus: "Specimens of medium size are 8 to 12 inches in diameter. The largest in the State Museum is about 15 inches in the dry state. When fresh it was probably 20 inches or more. The color is whitish, afterward yellowish or brownish. The largest size was called the Giant Puff-ball (Calvatia bovista)."

GEASTER = the earth star.

These vary greatly in size. The small ones grow on pine needles on the ground or among leaves. Some are mounted on pedicels, some are sessile or seated directly on the earth, but the family likeness is so pronounced that even the novice need not be doubtful as to the name of the fungus when found. There are two species that have slender, elongated stems. The name is well chosen. In moist weather the points expand and roll back or lie flat on the earth. Then the round puff-ball in the centre is plainly seen.

In dry weather the star-like divisions are rigidly turned in and cover closely the round portion. "When dry it is sometimes rolled about by the wind; when it is wet by the rain or abundant dew it absorbs the moisture and spreads itself out, and rests from its journey, again to take up its endless wandering as sun and rain appear to reduce it once more to a ball and set it rolling." (Underwood.)


We come now to the fourth and last order of the Stomach fungi (Gasteromycetes) that we shall mention. In spite of their appellation these fungi are strikingly beautiful, but their odor is most offensive. They grow in woods, and are also found in cellars. Their history has been carefully investigated by mycologists, and the novice will find many beautiful illustrations in various works. In their early stage they are enclosed in an egg-shaped veil (volva), having a gelatinous inner layer. Some are bright-colored, others are pure white, and the stems of one species look as if covered with lace work. The most familiar one, Phallus impudicus, "the fetid wood witch," we have placed in the list of fungi at the end of this book, with its description.


This is the second division of the Basidia-bearing fungi. It includes all the fungi that have the spores enveloped in delicate sacs called asci. It is divided into several orders, but we will only mention the one which contains the most familiar plants. This order is named the Disc-like fungi (Discomycetes). In this the spore-bearing surface is on the upper or outside surface of the mushroom cap. It is divided into many genera, of which we shall mention three—the Cup fungi, or Pezizas, the Morels or Morchellas, and the Yellowish fungi or Helvellas.

PEZIZAS = the Cup fungi.

These form a very large group, mostly growing on decaying plants. They are typically disc-shaped or cup-shaped, and when young are closed or nearly so, opening when mature. They vary in size from minute species to large fleshy ones, 3 to 4 inches in diameter. They are generally small, thin, and tough. They grow on twigs, leaves, dead wood, or on the ground. Many are stemless. They are both solitary and densely clustered. The color varies from pale brown to a dark gray, resembling, when moist, india-rubber cloth, and then, again, there are many of brilliant hues—red and orange. Some are erect, some are split down at the side like the ear of a hare. The Cup fungi are found in August and September, growing near ditches, and by the roadside where there is moisture. The ear-shaped Pezizas somewhat resemble the Jew's ear, and the beginner might easily confound them. This latter fungus belongs to the third class of membrane fungi (Hymenomycetes), and it is included in the descriptions of fungi.

THE MORELS or MORCHELLAS = the honey-combed fungi.

The collector during the months of April and May will enjoy a new experience when he first finds a fungus of a bright brown color, deeply pitted, spongy looking, cone-shaped or nearly round; its head supported on an erect, white stem. He will probably find it on a grassy hillside or along a running brook under some forest trees. He has perhaps seen its picture and at once exclaims, "my first Morel." He will notice its peculiar honey-combed depression, and then cutting it open will find both the head and the stem hollow. Where are the spores? There are no gills as in the Agarics, nor are they concealed in a covering (peridium), as in the Puff-balls, but they are contained in delicate sacs on the cap. The exterior surface of the cap is the spore-bearing portion, and the spores are developed in their sacs, but only seen under a microscope.

HELVELLA = the yellowish mushroom.

This genus may be readily recognized by the form of the cap, which is lobed and irregularly waved and drooping, often attached to the stem. They grow on the ground in the woods, and sometimes on rotten wood. The genus comprises the largest of the Disc fungi known, some species weighing over a pound. Cicero mentions the Helvellas as a favorite dish of the Romans.

THE TRUFFLE = delicacy.

It will be well to finish this section with the mention of the Truffle. It may yet be found in the United States, but hitherto its place of growth has been on the continent of Europe, and especially in France, where it forms an article of commerce, and is highly prized as food. It is subterranean, and requires for its discovery a higher sense of smell than man possesses. It is generally found by the hog and the dog, who are trained to help the truffle hunters. There are some species in our country that resemble it, and grow underneath the ground. One, found in the Southern States, called Rhizopogon, grows in sandy soil. This species, however, does not belong to Class II., but to Class I., the Gasteromycetes, or Stomach fungi. It is not likely that the beginner will find this mushroom, so no description will be given.


There are certain facts which if committed to memory will be of great help to beginners in classifying mushrooms. There are distinctive features belonging to different genera, which will be enumerated as follows. These facts apply to the order of Agarics, containing the largest number of familiar mushrooms. They have been placed in tables for the convenience of the beginner, and are arranged without regard to family relationship.

Mushrooms Containing both Volva and Ring (Annulus).

There is only one genus that has both volva and ring. Amanita.

Mushrooms with Ring and no Volva.

1. Pholiota. 2. Annularia. 3. Stropharia. 4. Psalliota. 5. Armillaria. 6. Lepiota.

Mushrooms that have the stem attached on the side (lateral) or between Margin and Centre (eccentric).

1. Crepidotus. 2. Claudopus. 3. Pleurotus.

Mushrooms with tough or cartilaginous Stems.

1. Psathyra. 2. Nolanea. 3. Mycena. 4. Marasmius. 5. Naucoria. 6. Leptonia. 7. Omphalia. 8. Collybia. 9. Psilocybe. 10. Galera.

Mushrooms, Stemless.

1. Schizophyllum. 2. Trogia. 3. Lenzites.

Mushrooms that have the Cap bell-shaped (campanulate) and Marked with Lines (striate).

1. Psathyra. 2. Galera. 3. Nolanea. 4. Mycena.

Mushrooms with Gills attached to Stem and a Ring.

1. Stropharia. 2. Armillaria. 3. Pholiota.

Mushrooms Having Gills with serrated edge.

1. Lentinus.

Mushrooms with Free Gills not attached to Stem.

1. Chitonia. 2. Psalliota. 3. Pluteolus. 4. Pluteus. 5. Volvaria. 6. Lepiota. 7. Amanita.

Mushrooms with emarginate sinuate Gills, or with notch near to Stem.

1. Hypholoma. 2. Tricholoma. 3. Hebeloma. 4. Entoloma.

Mushrooms that are corky and leathery.

1. Lenzites. 2. Lentinus. 3. Schizophyllum. 4. Panus.

Mushrooms with Gills running down Stem more or less (decurrent).

1. Gomphidius. 2. Paxillus. 3. Tubaria (some species). 4. Flammula (some adnate). 5. Eccilia (truly decurrent). 6. Clitopilus (somewhat decurrent). 7. Panus (some species decurrent). 8. Lentinus (mostly decurrent). 9. Cantharellus. 10. Hygrophorus (mostly decurrent). 11. Pleurotus (some decurrent). 12. Omphalia (truly decurrent). 13. Clitocybe (decurrent or adnate). 14. Lactarius (decurrent or adnato-decurrent).

Mushrooms that are deliquescent or turn into inky fluid.

1. Coprinus. 2. Bolbitius.

It will also be useful to the beginner to see a list of Agarics classified according to botanists by the color of their spores.


1. Leucosporae (white spores). 2. Rhodosporae (rosy or salmon spores). 3. Ochrosporae (ochraceous spores). 4. Melanosporae (dark purple or black spores).

Leucosporae, or White Spores.

1. Amanita. 2. Lepiota. 3. Armillaria. 4. Tricholoma. 5. Clitocybe. 6. Collybia. 7. Mycena. 8. Omphalia. 9. Pleurotus. 10. Trogia. 11. Hygrophorus. 12. Lactarius. 13. Russula. 14. Cantharellus. 15. Marasmius. 16. Lentinus. 17. Panus. 18. Xerotus. 19. Schizophyllum. 20. Lenzites. 21. Arrhenia (pallid spores).

Rhodosporae, Rosy or Salmon Spores.

1. Volvaria. 2. Pluteus. 3. Enteloma. 4. Leptonia. 5. Nolanea. 6. Eccilia. 7. Claudopus. 8. Clitopilus.

Ochrosporae, or Ochraceous Spores.

1. Pholiota. 2. Inocybe. 3. Hebeloma. 4. Flammula. 5. Naucoria. 6. Pluteolus. 7. Galera. 8. Tubaria. 9. Crepidotus. 10. Cortinarius. 11. Acetabularia. 12. Paxillus (spores are ferruginous or dingy white). 13. Bolbitius (ferruginous spores).

Melanosporae, Dark Purple or Black Spores.

1. Chitonia. 2. Psalliota. 3. Stropharia. 4. Hypholoma. 5. Psilocybe. 6. Psathyra. 7. Panaeolus. 8. Psathyrella. 9. Coprinus. 10. Gomphidius. 11. Anellaria.

Having arranged these lists of mushrooms by their different characteristics, and then by the color of the spores, we will give a list of fungi familiar to most persons, classified according to the colors of the cap. The far greater number have been analyzed by the writers, and a full description is given to enable the beginner more easily to identify them.

The reader will notice that in the lists of fungi given above there are certain genera not elsewhere mentioned in this book. He will understand that it is inadvisable in a short primer to allude to all the genera that exist. It was, however, impossible to give a complete table without including them in it.



The genus Russula probably contains the largest number of mushrooms with reddish caps, the word Russula meaning reddish.

RUSSULA EMETICA = a vomit. The Nauseating Russula.

Cap bright blood red, at first rosy, then blood color, tawny when old, 3 to 4 inches broad, first bell-shaped, then flattened or depressed, polished, margin at length grooved (sulcate), flesh white, reddish under the cuticle. Stem 1 1/2 to 3 inches long, 3/4 of an inch thick, white or with a reddish hue, spongy, stuffed, stout, elastic when young, fragile when old, even, tapering slightly upward. Gills free, broad, rather distant, white.

This is found on the ground among dead leaves, in the woods and open places from July to December. It has a bitter taste, and is said to be poisonous. Those eating it are often affected as if they had taken an emetic. It is easily distinguished by the fact of the flesh turning red immediately under the skin when it is peeled off. There are numerous varieties of it, in one the stem has minute wrinkles running lengthwise. We found it in different localities. The taste was acrid. It was one of the first and the last mushrooms that we gathered. (Poisonous.)

RUSSULA SANGUINEA = blood. The Blood-colored Russula.

Cap blood red, becoming pale at margin, 2 to 3 inches broad, at first convex, then depressed, and funnel-shaped (infundibuliform), irregularly swollen in the centre, polished, even, margin acute, moist in damp weather. Flesh firm, cheesy, white. Stem stout, spongy, stuffed, at first contracted at apex, then equal, slightly marked with lines white or reddish. Gills at first fastened to stem and then decurrent, crowded, narrow, connected by veins, fragile, somewhat forked, shining white, afterward turning ochraceous color. The taste is acrid and peppery. It is found in woods from August to September, and is not common. (Poisonous.)

RUSSULA ROSEIPES = rosy stem. The Rosy Stemmed Russula.

This is a striking-looking mushroom. The colors are pretty, and the tinge of red in the stem adds to its beauty. There are other species of Russula that also have red tints in the stem. Cap rosy red, with pink and orange hues, 1 to 2 inches broad, convex, becoming nearly plane or slightly depressed; at first viscid, soon dry, slightly marked with lines on the thin margin, taste mild. Gills moderately close, nearly entire, rounded behind and slightly adnexed, swollen in the middle, whitish, becoming yellow. Stem 1 to 2 inches long, 3 to 4 lines thick, slightly tapering upward, stuffed or hollow, white, tinged with red. It is distinguished from other species by its mild taste, rosy cap, commonly dry and but slightly striate on margin, its gills changing from white to yellow or slightly ochraceous, and being partially attached to the stem, and its stem being slightly stained with rosy red. It grows in pine and hemlock woods, and is found in July and August. (Edible.)

RUSSULA LEPIDA = neat or elegant. The Elegant Russula.

Cap at first is a bright red, but becomes a dull reddish-pink, paler at the disc, 3 inches broad, dry, fleshy, convex; then expanded, scarcely depressed, obtuse and polished, afterward cracked (rimose), and with minute scales (squamulose). The margin spreading and rounded, obtuse, not striate. Stem about 3 inches long, from 1 to 1 1/2 inch thick, even, solid, white, or rose color. Gills rounded behind, rather thick, somewhat crowded, often forked, connected by veins, white, often red at edge. Taste mild. We found our specimen in mixed woods. The stem was only tinged with pink. (Edible.)

LACTARIUS VOLEMUS = a kind of large pear. (From its shape.) The Orange Brown Lactarius.

Cap 3 to 5 inches broad, reddish-orange color, becoming pale, compact, rigid, obtuse, with the margin bent inward, depressed, at length marked with lines like a river (rimose). Flesh white, turning brown. Stem 2 to 3 inches long, 3/4 to 1 1/4 inch thick, stout, stuffed, then hollow, paler at apex, with a bloom, same color as cap, with lengthwise lines. Gills adnato-decurrent, yellowish turning ochraceous, broad, thin, crowded, milk sweet and plentiful. Stevenson says that the taste of this Lactarius is delicious, that it is savory even when raw. It should not be kept too long before cooking, or it will emit a strong, unpleasant odor. It is abundant in chestnut or oak woods from July to September. Our specimen was much wrinkled on the margin. The milk was abundant. (Edible.)

LACTARIUS ICHORATUS = lymph. The Colorless Lactarius.

The name of this species is given on account of the color of the milk (Stevenson). Cap a tawny pinkish-red color, 3 to 4 inches broad, zoned, plano-depressed, margin often wavy, dry, flesh creamy white or pallid. Stem 1 1/2 to 3 inches long, thick, solid, afterward spongy, equal, smooth, the same color as the cap, lighter at the apex. Gills adnate, slightly decurrent, not crowded, creamy white, turning ochraceous. Milk white, sweet. It has a strong smell. In the specimen we found the stem was slightly marked with lines and the milk plentiful. It is not spoken of as edible.


The name only applies to the taste of the milk. (Stevenson.)

Cap a light, bright reddish-orange, golden tawny color, 1 to 4 inches broad, even, then depressed, smooth, sticky when moist, flesh whitish, turning yellow. Stem 1 to 4 inches long, thick, stuffed, then hollow, even, smooth, same color as cap. Gills slightly running down the stem, rounded at one end, broad, yellowish. Milk mild, then bitterish and plentiful. It is found in pine and mixed woods from August until November. It has a beautiful color, and resembles in that particular L. volemus.

CORTINARIUS ARMILLATUS = a ring or bracelet. The Zoned Cortinarius.

Cap a tawny reddish-yellow, brick red, 2 to 5 inches broad, fleshy, bell-shaped or almost conical, then convex, dry, smooth, marked with reddish specks, darker toward the centre, flesh white, turning red and narrowing toward the margin. Stem 3 to 6 inches long, 1/2 inch thick, solid, firm, slightly tapering toward the apex, very bulbous at base, same color as cap, stuffed with brown pith inside. There are two or three reddish oblique zones encircling the stem. Gills adnate, swollen in the middle, distant, variable, at first pale cinnamon color, and then dark brown. We found them at the end of August in great numbers, sometimes united in tufts (caespitose) in all stages of growth, the younger ones covered with a cobwebby veil, which is paler in color than the zones. They grow in mixed woods.

CLITOCYBE LACCATA = a resinous substance. The Waxy Clitocybe.

This species is small in size. Cap is about 1 inch broad, thin, convex and almost plane. Sometimes with a depression (umbilicate). When moist it has a water-soaked look, and becomes pale in drying. When wet it has a peculiar flesh color, but when dry it is a pale yellowish-red hue. Stem is long and slender, tough and of same color as cap, 2 lines thick, fibrous, stuffed, often twisted and white, with soft, weak hairs at base (villous). Gills are attached to stem with a decurrent tooth, broad, distant, of a peculiar flesh color. We found several varieties. One had gills of a beautiful violet color (Var. amethystina), in another the gills were pale (Var. pallidifolia). (Peck.) A small form with radiating lines extending from near the centre to the margin (Var. striatula), Peck, is an interesting species and often seen. They grow closely together on the sides of roads, in groups, all through the season. Sometimes the cap is very small, 1/4 inch across. It often grows in arcs of circles.

CLITOCYBE INFUNDIBULIFORMIS = funnel-shaped. The Funnel-shaped Clitocybe.

Cap a pale red color, 2 to 3 inches broad, convex when young, then slightly raised in the middle, umbonate, afterward the margin is elevated and the cap becomes funnel-shaped and the margin wavy. Flesh thin and white. Stem 1 1/2 to 3 inches long, 2 to 3 lines thick, smooth, paler colored than the cap, tapering upward. Gills rather decurrent, arc-shaped, broad, distant, whitish, not yellow, netted with veins. This is also a variable species and grows in woods. It is pretty, and is easily known by its shape.

BOLETUS MURRAYI. Murray's Boletus.

Cap dark red, 1 to 3 inches broad, granulated, convex, with a slight mound or umbo, margin turned upward, flesh yellow. Stem 1/2 inch long, yellow. Tubes lemon color, angular and round, irregular. The stem in our specimen was granulated like the cap.

BOLETUS CHROMAPES = chrome yellow and foot. The Chrome-footed Boletus.

Cap tawny red, 2 to 4 inches broad, convex or nearly plane, flesh white. Tubes almost attached (subadnate), depressed around the stem, whitish, turning a pinkish-brown color. Stem equal or tapering upward, rough whitish color, with reddish specks upon it, but chrome yellow at the base, both outside and inside, and spongy within. Stem 2 to 4 inches long, about 1/2 inch thick. This is not a hard boletus to distinguish on account of the yellow color at the base of the stem. The Boleti seem to be most abundant from the beginning of July until early in September. There are many varieties of beautiful colors, and they are a most interesting group, especially to beginners. This may be partly owing to the fact that Professor Peck's pamphlet on "Boleti" is clearly expressed, and the descriptions so vivid and plain that one has less trouble in naming them than any other class of fungi.

HYGROPHORUS MINEATUS = vermilion. The Vermilion Hygophorus.

Cap 1 inch broad, at first vermilion color and then paler, broad, flattened and then even, depressed in centre by the margin becoming elevated. It is thin and fragile at first, even, smooth, and then scaly. Stem from 1 to 2 inches long, slender, 1 line thick, a little paler than the cap, equal, round, somewhat stuffed, smooth, shining. Gills attached, seldom decurrent, distant, distinct, yellow color, shaded with red. This species is very fragile. It grows in woods or in open country, on mosses or on dead leaves. It may be caespitose, or grows singly from July to October.

HYGROPHORUS COCCINEUS = scarlet color. The Scarlet Hygrophorus.

Cap, first bright scarlet and then changing to a paler hue. One to 2 inches broad and even more, convex, plane, often unequal, obtuse, sticky, and even, smooth, flesh of the same color as cap. Stem 2 inches long, 3 to 4 lines thick, hollow, then compressed and rather even, scarlet color like cap, but always yellow at the base. Gills wholly attached, decurrent, with a tooth, distant, connected by veins, soft, watery, when full grown, purplish at the base, light yellow in the middle, powdery at the edge, fragile. This species grows in pastures, and is common. It is found from August to November.

HYGROPHORUS PUNICEUS = blood red. The Blood-red Hygrophorus.

Cap 2 to 4 inches broad, glittering blood scarlet, when older becomes paler, at first bell-shaped, obtuse, commonly spread out or lobed, irregular, even, smooth, sticky. Flesh of the same color as cap, fragile. Stem 3 inches long, 1 to 1 1/2 inch thick. Solid when young, at length hollow, very stout, swollen in middle, thinner at both ends, marked with lines and generally scaly at apex; when dry either yellow or same color as the cap, always white at first, and often incurved at the base. Gills ascending, swollen in middle, 2 to 4 lines broad, distant, thick, white or light yellow, or yellow, and often reddish at base. This is a very handsome species. It is found in pastures from July to November.


CANTHARELLUS CIBARIUS = food. The Chantarelle.

Cap bright orange or egg color, first convex, and then depressed, at length top-shaped and smooth. The margin lobed and turning under (involute). Flesh thick and white. Stem 1 to 1 1/2 inch long, thickened upward, solid, fleshy. Gills running down the stem, thick, distant, fold-like. Stevenson does not give the size of the cap, but our specimen measured 2 inches in breadth. It had an odor like ripe apricots, and a pleasant taste. It is often tufted in its growth. It is found in woods from July to December. This is a very striking looking mushroom and easily distinguished. It often grows in rings or arcs of circles. (Edible.)

HYPHOLOMA FASCICULARE = a small bundle. The Tufted Hypholoma.

Cap a beautiful reddish color, like a peach; the disc darker, about 2 inches broad, fleshy, thin, convex, then plane, with a slight mound or umbo, even, smooth, dry; flesh a light yellow. Stem variable in length, 2 to 9 inches long, 2 lines thick, hollow, thin, incurved or curved, covered with fibres of same color as cap. Gills adnate, very crowded, linear, somewhat liquid when mature (deliquescent), sulphur yellow, and then becoming green, taste bitter. It grows in crowded clusters. It is said to be poisonous.

AMANITA MUSCARIA = a fly. The Fly Amanita.

Cap at first red, then orange, then becoming pale, about 4 inches broad, convex, and then flat, covered with thick fragments of volva; margin when grown slightly marked with lines; flesh white, yellow under the cuticle. Stem white, sometimes yellowish, 2 inches long, torn into scales, at first stuffed, then hollow; the attached base of the volva forms an oval-shaped bulb, which is bordered with concentric scales, that is, having a common centre, as a series of rings one within the other. Ring very soft, torn, even, inserted at the apex of the stem, which is often dilated. Gills free but reaching the stem, decurrent, in the form of lines, crowded, broader in front, white, rarely becoming yellow. It grows in woods from July to November. This mushroom is easily identified by its orange-colored cap, covered with white warts and pure white stem and gills. We found several specimens in the woods, all of a most beautiful striking color. (Poisonous.)


Cap a bright yellow, almost orange color, 1 1/2 inch broad, convex or expanded, covered with warts, but sometimes nearly smooth, the margin marked with lines (striate.) Gills white or tinged with yellow, free from the stem. Stem 2 to 3 inches long, white or yellowish, stuffed, slender, bearing a slight evanescent ring; bulbous at the base, bulb slightly margined by the volva. We found several specimens growing in mixed woods. It is smaller than A. muscaria, more slender, with a beautiful color.

TRICHOLOMA EQUESTRE = a knight. The Canary Mushroom, so called from its color.

Cap pale yellow, 3 to 5 inches broad, darker at disc, tinged with a brick red hue, and yellow near margin, convex, then plane, wavy, irregular; flesh white, thick. Stem 1 to 2 inches long, and 1/2 to 2/3 inch thick, generally white, sometimes yellow, stout and solid. Gills close, deeply notched near the stem, a beautiful pale yellow color, scarcely adnexed, broad, somewhat swollen in middle. It grows in pine woods and appears in the autumn.

TRICHOLOMA SULPHUREUM = sulphur. The Sulphury Tricholoma.

Cap dingy sulphur yellow color, 1/2 to 4 inches broad, at first round with a slight umbo, at length depressed, rather silky, then smooth and even. Stem 2 to 4 inches long, 3 to 4 lines thick, stuffed, somewhat equal but often curved, rather smooth, striate, sulphur yellow, of same color as cap. Gills adnexed, narrowed behind, rather thick, distant, distinct, brighter than the cap. This is also found in autumn in the woods, and is quite common. It has a strange disagreeable odor.

LACTARIUS DELICIOSUS = delicious. The Delicious Lactarius.

Cap orange brick color, 2 to 6 inches broad, becoming pale, fleshy, when young depressed in centre, margin turned under (involute), then flat and depressed, or funnel-shaped, with margin unfolded, smooth, zoned, slightly sticky. The zones become faded in the old plants. The flesh is whitish or tinged with yellow. Stem a little paler than the cap, with spots of deeper orange, 1 to 4 inches long, 1/3 to 2/3 of an inch thick, stuffed, then hollow, fragile. Gills running down the stem (decurrent), orange color, crowded, narrow, becoming pale and green when wounded. The milk is orange color. It grows in pine woods and in wet, mossy swamps. It resembles the orange brown Lactarius in size and shape, but the color is different, so we have placed it in the orange-colored section and L. volemus in the red division of colors.

STROPHARIA SICCAPES = dry and foot. The Dry Stropharia.

Stropharia is taken from a Greek word meaning sword belt, referring to its ring (Stevenson). Siccapes is from two words meaning dry and foot. It grows on horse manure. Stevenson does not mention this species. It is described by Mr. Peck in the State reports. Cap is a light yellow, darker in the centre, 1/4 inch to 1 inch broad, bell-shaped, sticky, shiny when dry, even. Stem sometimes 4 inches long, slender, straight, dry, base almost club-shaped. Ring scarcely perceptible, but forming a whitish zone, shining, persistent, apex of stem whitish, and slightly striate. Gills dark gray, almost blackish, the margin paler, adfixed, thin. We found a great many in one place, of all sizes, from 1 line across cap to 1 inch. In some specimens the ring was wanting, but in others it was apparent.

CANTHARELLUS AURANTIACUS = orange yellow. The Orange Chanterelle.

This species takes its name from its color. Cap is orange yellow, 2 to 3 inches broad, fleshy, soft, depressed, often eccentric, with the stem between centre and margin, and wavy, somewhat tomentose and involute at the margin. Stem 2 inches long, stuffed, and then hollow, somewhat incurved and unequal, yellowish. Gills decurrent, tense, and straight, repeatedly dividing by pairs from below upward (dichotomous) and crowded, often crisped at base, orange color. This species grows in woods, and is often found there during the months of autumn. Some consider it poisonous.

CANTHARELLUS INFUNDIBULIFORMIS = funnel-shaped. The Funnel-Shaped Chantarelle.

Cap yellow when moist, 1 to 2 inches broad, umbilicate, then funnel-shaped, wrinkled on the surface, at length wavy at margin. Stem 2 to 3 inches long, 2 lines thick, hollow (fistulose), a little thickened at the base, even, smooth, always a light yellow. Gills decurrent, thick, distant, dichotomous, straight, light yellow; when old, ash color (cinereous.) This is found in the woods from July to October.

BOLETUS HEMICHRYSUS = half and golden. The Half Golden Boletus.

The descriptions of the Boleti are all written after comparing the specimens we found with those described in Professor Peck's work on Boleti. We examined and analyzed all those placed on the list. The descriptions written by Professor Peck are so clear and faithful to nature that it makes the task of calling them by name much easier than any other fungi we have studied. Cap bright golden yellow, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches broad, convex plane and depressed, with minute wooly scales (floccose squamulose), and covered with a yellow powder (pulverulent), sometimes with cracks (rimose). Flesh thick and yellow. Tubes decurrent, yellow, becoming brown; mouths large, angular. Stem short, about 1 inch long, 3 to 6 lines thick, irregular, narrowing toward the base, sprinkled with a yellowish dust, tinged with red. We found it growing on an old stump, in pine woods, in the month of August.

BOLETUS GRANULATUS = granules. The Granulated Boletus.

This Boletus varies much in color. In our specimen it was a pinkish-yellow, and covered with yellow spots of a darker shade. We found it in all sizes, from 2 to 4 inches broad. Cap was convex, nearly plane, viscid when moist. It became more of a yellow color when it was dry. Flesh pale yellow. The tubes were adnate, short and yellowish. Stem 1 to 2 inches long, 4 to 6 lines thick. Some were united in tufts (caespitose), others were gregarious (in groups) or solitary. They grew on the edge of pine woods, and near the roadside. The stem was dotted in the upper part with glandules and was pale yellow.

BOLETUS CYANESCENS = bright blue. The Bluing Boletus.

Cap a light pale brownish-yellow, or a light yellow color (alutaceous), 2 to 5 inches broad, with minute wooly scales, convex or nearly plane. Flesh white, changing quickly to blue when cut. Tubes free, white, afterward yellow; mouths small, round. Tubes change also to a bluish-green when bruised. Stem 2 to 4 inches long, 3/4 to 1/2 inch thick, swollen in the middle (ventricose), covered with a bloom (pruinose), stuffed and then hollow, tapering toward the apex, colored like the cap. This is a very easy Boletus to distinguish from others, and interesting to the beginner on account of the striking and beautiful change of color. Found in hemlock and pine woods toward the end of August.

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