No General Rule For Identification. Simple Botanical Discrimination

It must not be presumed that the list of edible species just cited from the catalogue of Dr. Curtis includes all the esculents among the fungi. Dr. Harkness has discovered and classified many others. Mr. Palmer and Prof. Charles Peck are never at a loss for their "mess of mushrooms" anions: their list of nearly a hundred species, while Mr. Charles Mcll-vaine, whose name, so far as its practical authority is concerned, should appear more prominently in my bibliographical list, but who has not yet incorporated his many mycological essays in book form, writes me that he has tested gastronomically a host of species, and has found over three hundred to be edible, or at least harmless. It may be said that the probabilities would include a large majority of the thousand species in the same category. But this is a matter which, in the absence of absolute knowledge, is mere conjecture.

Of the forty-odd species which the writer enjoys with more or less frequency at his table, he is satisfied that he can select at least thirty which possess such distinct and strongly marked characters of form, structure, and other special qualities as to enable them, by the aid of careful portraiture and brief description, to be easily recognized, even by a tyro.

As previously emphasized, the present work does not aim to be complete, nor does it contemplate a practical utility beyond its specific recommendations, nor will the author assume any responsibility for the hazard which shall exceed its restricted list of species. On general principles, however, considering the proneness of humanity towards the acquisition of forbidden fruit, and reasoning from my own actual experience, and that of many others to whom this fascinating hobby of epicurean fungology has become a growing passion, it may almost be assumed that the fungus appetite with many of my readers will increase by what it feeds on, and the sufficiency herewith offered will scarcely suffice. Like Oliver Twist, they must needs have more. The glory of a new acquisition to the fungus menu, and emulation of other rival tyro mycophagists, will doubtless lead many enthusiasts to more or less hazardous experiment among the legion of the unknown species. This logical tendency, then, must be met ere my book can safely and conscientiously be launched upon its career, to which purpose I would append the following condensed