Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/371

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appear, each packed with, transparent oval nucleated spores, just such spores and quite such sacs as appeared in the fruiting surface of the morel, and we are ready with the botanist to call the granules fruit. Who could have guessed the contents of that sphere? But look again at those radiating ornamental filaments. Trace to its distal end a single ray, and see the grapnels by which the fertile globule we have studied holds fast to the surface of its host through storm and flood. Notice the elegant curves, the symmetrical branching, fit model for the artist in arabesque or filigree! What more beautiful or more efficiently suggestive! (Fig. 2 a.)

Such is the lilac blight; but now that we have discoverd one such fungus, we may carry our inquiries to almost any extent. The neighboring cherry-tree will afford similar material for study and admiration. Here the appendages are simpler, and the fruit itself contains but a single sac with spores (Fig. 3 a). The poplars and the willows show spherules whose appendages are simple hooks, so that the fruit is a minute bur of the teazel sort, fit for fairy carding (Fig. 2 b). The oak-leaf and the hazel bear appendages simpler still, the appendages being straight and needle shaped, ray-like, actinic; Phyllactinia Léveillé named it—lea-fray—the needles starting like rays of light from some effulgent center (Fig. 3 h).

During the early days of autumn we can hardly go amiss for the appendaged fungi such as just described. In the woodland, the pastures, by the road-side, in shade and in sun, a thousand white-flecked leaves attract the appreciative and only the appreciative eye. Minuteness removes from ordinary ken—and the world goes on! Besides, these parasites are not especially harmful, at least in the phases described, to their presumably unwilling hosts. The pea-vine and the rose-bush may sometimes suffer, but generally the leaves attacked have pretty well done the season's work before the parasite attains its maximum, so that man's interest in the matter is not specially affected. There is, however, another and different set of leaf-fungi whose parasitism is decidedly more intimate, and consequently destructive of the host-plant, suicidal as such a policy would seem to be. These latter, as indeed all the fungi already cited, are known as blights, and as such some species are already famous. The potato murrain, which has its place in civil history, is a very pretty little transparent branching fungus, so delicate that a breath destroys it. First becoming notorious in 1845, and during the famines of 1846 and 1847, it has been found and studied in all parts of the world for the forty years succeeding. The lilac fungus is content to spread its mycelium over the surface of the lilac-leaves, absorbing its nourishment from the surface cells; but the potato mold.