BOTANY so rare everywhere that no provincial name has been assigned to it, is confined so far as is known to one locality on Paul's Cray Common near Chislehurst. The entire substance of the fungus consists of a nearly colourless quaking jelly-like mass having just sufficient consistency to retain its form, which is tongue-shaped and covered on the under surface with pointed spines. No other county in England can boast of so many species belonging to the beautiful genus Russula fifty-five out of a total of sixty-one British species. All grow on the ground and are distinguished by the stout smooth stem and rigid white or yellow gills ; the cap is usually bright-coloured crimson, purple, yellow and green being the prevailing tints. During early autumn members of the genus Boletus command attention owing to their large size and brilliant colour. Seen growing the species might be mistaken for gill-bearing fungi, but on examination it will be found that instead of gills the under surface of the cap is furnished with myriads of small holes or tubes in which the spores are produced. In many kinds of Boletus the colourless flesh of the cap changes instantly to a deep blue when broken. Edible fungi are abundant. At least thirty different kinds perfectly safe to eat and each possessing its own peculiar taste and aroma have been tested. Among these the parasol mushroom (Lepiota procera) is perhaps most frequent and most easily recognized. The general appearance of the fungus is that of a parasol ; stem slender, five to eight inches high, furnished with a loose ring or collar ; cap six to ten inches across, rather scaly ; gills white. The horn of plenty (Craterellus cornucopioides] is a quaint fungus blackish in colour, thin and rather gelatinous, funnel-shaped, usually growing in clusters and delicious when properly cooked. The edible boletus (Boletus edulis) has a cap corresponding in size and colour to a penny bun, supported on a stout stem ornamented with a delicate network of raised lines. Poisonous fungi are not lacking. The death-cup (A manita phalloides) is probably responsible for at least ninety per cent, of the deaths due to fungus-poisoning both in this country and on the continent. It is an elegant fungus and entirely devoid of any objectionable taste or smell ; the stem is slender, three to five inches long and inserted at the base into a sheath or volva with a loose broken margin ; gills white ; cap three to four inches across, whitish or pale primrose-yellow. Parasitic fungi, many of which prove very destructive to cultivated plants, are unfortunately too abundant. The leaf blotch (Rhytisma aceri- num), forming large black patches on the living leaves of sycamores and maples, is generally present. Coral spot (Nectria cinnabarina) , very common on decaying branches of various trees, is recognized by forming numerous small wart-like bodies of a clear coral-red colour; these warts are the fruit of the fungus, which bursts through the bark after the branch has been killed by the mycelium. Apple tree canker is caused by a closely related parasite (Nectria ditissima)^ and the minute bright red pustules of the fungus may be found nestling in the crevices of the cankered parts of i 65 F
Page:VCH Surrey 1.djvu/107
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